What is the Entry Age for Kindy

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“He is four years old. Why isn’t he in kindy yet?”

I’ve gotten used to hearing this by now. I still hear it quite often when my 4 year old boy tags along to his sister’s kindy. I hear it from the teachers, the other parents as well as grandparents. They won’t leave us alone. Everytime I meet a new parent, they’d ask this question and look at us as though we’re weird. It annoys me to no end.

The kindy where my girl attends has 

  • 1 six year old class, 
  • 1  five year old class,
  • 2 four year old classes,  
  • 1 three year old class and
  • the under threes are grouped together and considered the daycare class.

Some of them come to school with bolsters, pillows, pacifiers and are still in diapers. Some of them look like they’ve just learned to walk. Notice that the kindy has more classes for 4 year olds compared to the five and six  year olds. What does that tell you?

It tells me that the entry age for kindy has been brought down significantly. Why? I suppose its because we now live in a competitive world where both parents are working and we simply have no choice and if we don’t send our kids, they will not be learning anything at home and we’re worried they will be left behind. Yada yada yada.

I guess if one really does not have a choice, its ok if you send your child to a playschool to play. But no, the kids are now subjected to at least 3 years of kindy ie K1, K2 and K3. The learning environment is structured with many subjects like Math, English, Malay, Mandarin, Science, Moral, and there is homework and tests. (Previously there was only kindy, then there was K1 and K2, now we have K1, K2 and K3. What next? K4 I suppose.) I think its crazy.

My 4 year old is at home and they think I’m crazy. Some tell me “But you have the luxury of being home to teach him.” No, I don’t have the time to teach him all the time. Sometimes I just let him watch TV but I think thats perfectly fine for a 4 year old. So I’m probably crazy. More crazy then the parents who say “But I’m so worried my kid will not learn anything at his grandparent’s.” I understand those who do not want to leave the kid alone at home with the maid but not wanting to leave the kid in the comfort of home with loving grandparents? Hmmmm….

My girl didn’t attend any playschool, playgroup, Sunday school, nursery or whatever you call it. She stayed at home with me and went to kindy for the first time at 6 years old. And no, she did not turn out to be a social pariah. (As some predicted. Those are not my words.) No, she is not left behind. No she is not miserable in kindy. On the contrary, she is one of the above average students (according to her teacher), she has many friends and she participates in class by asking questions and she loves kindy. Right from the very first day. I didn’t have to deal with any tears.

But I was worried. I was so worried that she’d be left behind. I was worried that she’d not know how to socialise (she was a very shy kid to the extent of hiding under the table when my sis came to visit). She was very clingy too.

My boy is much more clingy than her. He is like a koala bear with super glue. But I shall not worry. I shall not worry the next time I hear “He is four years old. Why isn’t he in kindy yet?” along with the weird glances we receive. I shall be sending him next year at age 5. And thats it! Just leave us alone!


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20 thoughts on “What is the Entry Age for Kindy

  1. Hard truth but not all grandparents are loving ..:P And talking about clinging koalas, my son is now 9 years old and still clinging like crazy!! (Not that I’m not enjoying the lurrvve … heheh)

    Hmm…. You’re right about that as I suspect I won’t be a very loving grandparent myself. I’d probably say “Hey, I took care of you all those long hard years, now let me enjoy my golden years. 😛 Speaking of which, I really think we should not dump our kids onto our parents in their golden years unless they’re happy to take care of them but I think most grandparents will not say no to their child who asks them to look after their kids simply out of love.

    Anyway, let me rephrase that.

    “I understand those who do not want to leave the kid alone at home with the maid but not wanting to leave the kid in the comfort of home for those who have loving grandparents?

  2. Yes, totally agreed. Sending your kids 1 year earlier doesn’t makes your kid smarter. You can teach your kid more things that they didn’t even learn in kindy. Let the kids have fun before they started to go to school from 5 years old to 23 years old. (18 years of education)

    That many years of education eh? I didn’t count the years.

  3. If not because my son insisted to be sent to school at his age (4), I definitely will NOT do so..coz I wanted him to enjoy his toddler life before encounter all these homework life, social life etc etc..

    If he likes school, then theres nothing wrong at all to go and have fun and learn at the same time whatever the age. A lot depends on the child.

  4. Ah…. I have no plans to send Reese to kindy until maybe age 5 or 6…. Will just take him to a playgroup for some fun play time with other kids.

    One of the reason I am homeschooling Reese is that I don’t want him to be pressured to doing homework and test and even exams… I just want him to learn in a fun manner minus all the stress and pressure…

    Thats what I did with my girl. It was mostly fun minus the pressure. I took the cue from her. When she shows an interest in something new, then I start teaching her in that area.

  5. well, Im one of those who sent mine earlier, partly cos they said they wanted to. I sent the Js at 2.5 (in their 3rd year) and it was only 3x a week, playgroup style. K was itching to go! he went just before 2, once a week, playgroup. The thing was he was so much more independent (not sure if its cos he’s got two older monkey brothers) than the others in his playgroup that time.

    He’s now going 5x a week with the boys, he LOVES it. Despite being a stay at home mum, Im not the kind that can patiently teach their kids letters etc (I could to a point, then after having k, I just never seemed to spend the same amount of time doing those things as I did with Js). I think a gradual trial is good, once or twice a week playgroup wise is fine (whatever the age you choose to send), let them get used to being away from you, you get a breather, seems to help sometimes. I purposely chose a school (or two schools now) that was more laid back, only the Js have homework and it’s not that bad, two pages a day, but they are going to primary school next year lor). Many of the schools I checked out were like SCARY! If you send them to chinese school prepatory kindy, lagi scary!!!!!

    Like your comments have said, it all depends on what you want to do with your kids. I worry abt them being in govt school for next year but Im trying to tell myself we can balance it at home. We watch TV, have discussions, read books together, when we walk about, we talk abt things we see. It did me good having a break from the kids, even if it’s 2-3 hours (that time will go FAST haha).

    It really just depends on your preferences, the school/playgroup and your kids. I dont believe in tuition for kids of this age (and man, I can see alll the leaflets that come in my postbox on this, can you believe it?!?!). I do send the Js for Mandarin class on sat am but that’s only cos I can’t teach it to them and she teaches them in a very fun way, rather than just by route.

    Wah this comment is too long HAHHAA don’t flame me !!! 😉 You know what works best for your boy 🙂

    I was afraid that YOU were going to flame me. Haha. I believe that in parenting, whatever you feel is right for your child, your family and your circumstance is right. There is no wrong or right. I see many happy, independant 4 year olds at the school but at the same time I also see some who look miserable.

    During a recent end of school term party, I saw this sweet and cute little girl about 2 -3 crying hard and walking around with her bolster. “Sked sked balloon pop” she kept on saying. I held out my arms and she rushed into them to be comforted. She certainly didn’t belong in that environment.

    I think learning should be more based on fun and play in the early years rather than structured. I was horrified when one principal of an acclaimed and famous kindy told me proudly “We have a lot of homework here. Our curriculum is equivallent with the Std 1 curriculum and all our kids who leave here are doing very well in school.” Needless to say I didn’t send my child there. I picked a smaller, more casual establishment. Still the homework is a lot for a 6 year old. My girl gets home at 12.30 has lunch and does her homework till 4 pm. Sometimes she can’t finish and has to continue after dinner on heavy homework days. I don’t want my 4 year old son to have the same pressure of doing homework.

    He can play with his robots and cars and watch tv in the morning. In the afternoons, when his sister does her homework, he takes out his school bag and does his “homework” as well. He learns at his own pace and time.

  6. My guess all this problem started with some kiasu parents not wanting their beloved child to be left out, so they started to sent thier kids to nursery earlier and earlier. I totally agree with you, but my wifey disagree so my daughter has been in nursery since she was 3!, but somehow she loves the interaction with other kids, so 50/50 lah. But my 3 year old son is now also in nursery, but he hates it. He rather stay at home watching TV and playing PS2! But one thing that really irk me the most is the kindy teachers telling us that they don’t like to take in kids at 5 or 6, because they still cannot read & write. I thought that was what I paid my hard earn money for, for them to teach my kids to read and write.

    “one thing that really irk me the most is the kindy teachers telling us that they don’t like to take in kids at 5 or 6, because they still cannot read & write. I thought that was what I paid my hard earn money for, for them to teach my kids to read and write.”

    Did they say that? Thats ridiculous!

    I don’t think its all that bad to send a child to kindy early. A lot depends on the child’s temperament. If they love it and thrive in the environment then who are we to say its wrong. However, I am glad I didn’t send my daughter till age 6 because she would have cried buckets and suffered from lots of separation anxiety had I sent her at age 4. We would have spent lots of money plus we wouldn’t have the pleasant tears free memories we now have of her at preschool loving most minutes of it now that shes good and ready.

  7. My boys are one of those lil ones that start preschool at age 2+. We had our anxiety too if it was a right decision but both of them showed us that they enjoyed school very much. I guess it also depends on the school environment and the child. Like them, in their first year (2-3 years old), is a lot of play and self development – ie developing their gross motor, taking care of themselves, socializing and etc. which the school calls it pre-academic development. I also chose montessori approach for them as I felt that was better especially since they enter at such tender age.

    Being a working mum, I felt that they were better off spending 3hrs in the morning in the school than at the babysitter. However, I can’t bring myself to keep them at daycare as I felt at such age they still need that sort of home environment though a daycare cum kindy cost a lot less than my current arrangment of school + babysitter.

    I guess, bottom line like what you say, there is no right or wrong. The most important thing is that the parent listen to the child and is sensitive to the child needs.

    “The most important thing is that the parent listen to the child and is sensitive to the child needs.”

    You’ve hit the hammer on the nail. 🙂 Altho at times we have to step in to steer them a little bit. 🙂

  8. Aiyo. I am one of those lazy mums. I wanna send my No.2 to kinder..so that he’ll be out of my hair. Unfortunately, over here, kinder is ONLY max 2 days a week. When he is 4, it’s max 3!

    HOW??? I want 5 days a week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WAKAKAAKAKAKAKAAKAKAKAKAKAAKA! So bad huh me!

    You are incorrigible! You and your infectious laughter. Hahaha.

  9. I have a situation here where my boy is forced to have to go to school earlier cos of his birthday. I have the exact issues…why can’t they let us decide? One year difference, what does it matter to the Ministry and others? But one year difference, hey, that means a lot to the boy and us!

    It’s good you are firm about what you want for your kids’ education. Going with the flow and sometimes being kiasu will only do our kids more harm. I agree, chill out, cut them some slack when they’re young unless they enjoy it. Once they go to mainstream schools, they have to be punished all the way.

    Yours is a bigger problem as you are forced to go with the flow eh?

  10. I ran learning center / tuition center and kindy before. Frankly, I didn’t even want my kids to go to my own center, if it’s still running. I really don’t see the point of training my kids in all those right brain methods which I learned and want them to be extra-ordinary.
    I think you are right about being sensitive to your own children. If they can stay at home for a little longer, why not? I’m glad that my kids don’t have to go thru the education system and kiasu learning environment in M’sia anymore. They can just play at preschool until 6 years old. 😛 No choice, mommy working liao.

    Lucky you… 🙂

  11. If i have a choice, my boys would be at home till they are 5 or 6. Let them enjoy their childhood a little longer. Afterall they are going to be in school for a VERY LONG time.

    But i don’t coz my parents can take care of #1 & #2 at same time, so off #1 goes to PLAYschool. I made sure very much that the school focuses on play. No pressure to excel academically. Everything is learning through pay. So far, i find that he has learnt a lot and he really enjoy himself at school. I just have to deal wit the occasional whining in the morning due to separation anxiety. But at this moment, i felt that going to school is a good decision for him. Btw, he is only 2.5 yrs also.

    Yah, it would be hard on your parents to have to take care of 2 at the same time so its understandable.

  12. hey MG. thanks for posting this up. i have been asked my times if i have started to send my daughter to a preschool…and she just turned 3. even my own father is pestering me to send her to school…saying that she needs to mix around…blah blah blah 🙁 i don’t think my daughter has any problem in that area cos she is not shy and loves to be with other children. i’m at a loss sometimes. is she lonely at home? does she prefer to go to school? i would love for her to enjoy her childhood and not be burdened by all the homework. i read in some mommies’ blogs that even a 3 year old has homework!!!

    ” i’m at a loss sometimes. is she lonely at home? does she prefer to go to school?”

    These are the questions we ask ourselves sometimes due to this pressure from others to send our child to kindy early.

  13. We travel like 30mins-50mins for my boy’s kindy because it’s a place I know where the teachers are caring, trained to understand and help children develop individually and can give personal attention and help him grow as a person.

    He has separation anxiety, moans about not wanting to go to school because he loves me and will miss me, but is always happy when he sees me after 3 hours and declares he had a great time. There is no homework and the hardest work he had to do was some colouring for simple crafts.

    My own experience was very different. At 3+, almost 4, I was sent to kindy where we had homework and exams: We were tested on 3 languages, writings, crafts, math and singing. Both my parents worked and hardly had time to teach us. But I loved school even before I went in – had an older sis in the same kindy. So it was for better or worse. But now I make a different choice for my kids.

    Btw, I was last in class, with 2A, 2B and a sting of C! hahaha…

    Wow. You travel 30-50 mins. I chose my girl’s kindy partly based on distance. The nearer the better. Hahaha. I never attended any kindy and I hated primary school because I was left to fend on my own being the last of 5 kids. I took the school bus to school on the very first day along with the bros and sis. Being the last of 5, mom and dad simply had no time left for me. I think whatever age you sent, parental involvement is so important. A child needs to feel secure in the thought that the parents are always there for her.

  14. It’s okay to send them to go for playgroup and all But seriously exams are too much for the kids in kindy. So, since most of the sch are practising it, then we just gotto tell our kids to have fun and do their best. Don’t pressure them.

    Like me, I got no choice to send J to playgroup. So i tot of being a SAHM when no2 comes. But looking at him enjoying sch now, I think I’ll let him continue to be there even when I’m at home. I think he’ll be bored with me at home. hehe Bad eh ?

    No, I don’t think its bad wut. Now you have no choice but to send him but since he is enjoying it, there is no sense to change that when No. 2 comes along. Kids hate and become confused by change. This way you can give equal one to one time to both Lil J and Lil Lil J. And there will be less jealousies and fighting to deal with. You’re also not sending him AFTER baby arrives which will send the message that you are sending him away or baby is replacing him. So no worries about that too. I think its perfect. 🙂

  15. I sent my son to kindy this year at 4yrs old. I chose this kindy because of its relax environment compared to other kindies that I have surveyed. So far, my son has yet to bring home any homework to do or had any exams (his school does not practice exams even for 6yrs old). Compared to his cousin who is attending another kindy, he is considered very lousy as he does not know how to write 1-10 yet and never learned how to write A-Z! His cousin has already learn 1-50 and A-Z and lots more as she has plenty of homeworks everyday.
    Sometimes I am questioning myself if I have enrolled him in the right kindy as I can see other kids are doing so well and far better than my son. Now I start to wonder if it is true that kids would not be able to cope in Primary 1 if they are not exposed to such extreme homework and couching in kindy. I am worried for my son as he is not that good in his studies.

    Cookie, sometimes when I am worried, I browse around the bookshop at the Standard 1 primary books to see the level. Haha. Your son is only 4. He has 2 more years before entering primary school. I don’t think you have to worry. If you are maybe you can coach him at home in a fun way. My 4 year old can write from A-Z and count probably up to 20 and do some simple math addition and subtration up to 10. I am teaching him to read now. He is not attending any kindy. I just follow his cue. If he shows interest in something, I teach him. I don’t spend that much time teaching him. If you’re a working mum, you can even teach him at bedtime. Sometimes we read Science book as a bedtime story but they love it. They love looking at the pictures and discussing them. I just think that at this age, learning should be focussed on fun. Now that my 6 year old is attending kindy, I have to shout at her everyday to finish her homework. It has certainly taken the fun out of learning!

  16. I know how you feel! Well not so much on the schooling side but on the matters that strangers just like to stick their nose into my parenting style.

    every parent is different, just like every kid is different. what you do to your kid is your own business, and it doesn’t give you the right to tell me how I should treat my kid! Won’t they just shut up!

    usually, I would just turn over and say, “thank you for your concern.” and walked away. ‘cos if I were to stay longer, I guess, my fiery eyes will be flying darts over at them.

    Back to the schooling thing, so long as you are confident of your kids learning ability, then go ahead and do what you do….usually the kindy is to prepare the kids a feel of what its like to be in school before the eventually step into the ‘big’ school…

    Well, usually, I just listen, smile and the words go in one ear and out the other and sometimes, just sometimes, I rant on my blog afterwards. Hahaha.

  17. if possible, I too don’t wanna send my kid to kindy so early.. he’s got so many years ahead of him so a few more years at home won’t turn him into a “social pariah”.. unless he wants to go to kindy early.. you know, he might get bored looking at his mummy all the time! hahaha!

    Kids will never get bored at just looking at mummy all the time. 😉

  18. my dotter is going to be 16 months soon, i don’t think i have to worry about kindy yet rite? sigh, but ppl have been telling me, wen im preggers with no 2 then i have to send dotter to kindy liao, sure bbsitter behtahan jaga-ing both. adoi sakit kepala.

    Alamak. Sakit kepalanya. Haha. But perhaps there may be some truth in that. If you want to know how difficult it would be to jaga two then hop over to my Parenting blog and read my latest post “When you have two kids”. Hehe. 😉

  19. Nat is turning 3 next year, I’m still wondering if I should send her to preschool.

    As I don’t want her to be caught up with homeworks and exams at such an early age. I prefer learning through playing and having fun.

    The only reason I’m thinking of sending her to preschool is because I want her to be able to mix around other kids and learn to share things with other kids.

    I’m looking for preschool that doesn’t require 5 days week, preferably 2 or 3 times a week and emphasize on learning through playing and fun. No exam or homework.

    Meanwhile I notice Nat loves to dance alot, so instead of sending her to preschool next year, I may just send her to those once or twice a week, one two hours dancing classes, to let her have fun there and learn something she likes.

    I’m slowly checking around for other options.

    Short classes on something she likes sounds like a good idea.

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