Posted by: Stephanie | 2009-01-13

3 year old and socializing

I have three-year-old boy. I have been getting mixed advice from people regarding his socializing. One group tells me that he needs to go to a playschool. The other group tells me that I should keep him at home with me for as long as possible. I' m currently studying education so I do spend alot of " learning"  time with him. But some days it seems as if he misses playmates.
My question to you, sir, is whether he needs to go to playschool this year or can it wait another year.

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Our expert says:
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No three-year-old NEEDS to go to a play-school. Some, in some circumstances, would be benefitted by this, some would not. And beyond doubt it can wait another year. COuldnt't you add a few local playmates to the mix, while he remains with you ? A play-school is really a substitute for the simple communities we used to have, where mothers and other caregivers would get together on some days, and let the kids in their care play together --- there's otherwise nothing magical about it.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Purple | 2009-01-14

When I had the same question for my peadiatrician, he put it to me this way.

For the first few years one on one care is best, so whether it is with mommy or granny or a nanny/au-pair its still just as good. There should be times of stimulating organised play interspersed with lots of free play time.

At around two and a half to three children stop playing side by side and start playing together, and they start to need to socialise. So if you live in a community where there are lots of children around and the carers get together every morning for a few hours or all meet at the park or local playground every afternoon, then this need will be met, but if you don' t, then your child should attend a playgroup or pre-primary school, they usually run 3 hours e.g. from 9 till 12 on weekdays. In addition to providing the socialisation opportunities it starts getting your child used to cutting out, gluing, colouring in, sharing, following a school routine etc. and makes the transition to the more formal grade R and grade 1 easier.

You' re lucky you have a choice about this, most moms have to have their children in day care from 4 to 6 months old and then although they go to pre-primary, its after care in the afternoons so they are essentially at school full day 5 days a week.
I was lucky too and was home until my son was 7 months, then had a wonderful nanny until he was 20 months, when he went to a day mother so was in a small group setting until he turned two and started at pre-primary. He had started playing with rather than next to other children by then so we moved him to the pre-primary a year earlier than we had been planning. I' m also blessed to work until early afternoon, so although he does attend aftercare it' s only for an hour, except for two afternoons a week which I need for my sanity, when he stays for 3 hours.

I doubt that in your situation waiting a year would cause a problem. How easily does he separate from you now? if he struggles now, then definitely wait a year and in that time just ensure you have regular play dates with small groups.

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