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Is it okay for a 4-year-old to be in school all day?
Q: How many hours of school a day are too much too handle for a 4-year-old? I'm concerned about a friend who has her son in preschool from 8:30 to 11:30 am. Then directly from preschool, he is bused to Chinese school, where he has lunch, takes a nap and learns math and Chinese until dinnertime, when he is picked up. This child is the first-born son, with a younger sister and a baby sibling on the way. His parents think he should be in school to learn academic subjects, but isn't that a little much for a 4-year-old?
A: I think it’s too much as a general rule, but in individual cases it might be just fine. Certainly, if his parents want him to learn Chinese, now is the time to begin—if not sooner. In Singapore—a country that is officially bilingual—children from Chinese-speaking homes learn English in early childhood programs, while children from English-speaking homes attend Chinese language programs. If the school is attuned to the needs of young children, an intensive bilingual program with heavy emphasis on pre-academic skills does not need to be stressful. However, it certainly can be. I would say that the little boy’s behaviour is the best indicator as to whether this is too much for him. If he whines and cries and doesn’t want to go, I would say it’s too much.