The Many Benefits of Early Formal Schooling

For many families with young children, deciding when to start school can be challenging. Although most of us may not have started formal schooling until age 5 or 6, early years pre-school programs are becoming increasingly popular around the world. In China, it’s quite common for children to start attending school at age 3 for Nursery or even earlier at age 2 for Pre-Nursery. Early exposure to formal schooling has many benefits. Take a moment to consider how entering school early might help your child start his or her life-long educational journey off on the right foot.

(Dates of open mornings at Wellington available towards the end of this article.)

At birth, a child’s brain has roughly 2,500 synapses per neuron, by the time they reach age 2, that number is closer to 15,000 — twice that of the average adult. This is a critical phase of brain development for a child. It is when they begin to form memories, retain information and recognise their own autonomy. They start to observe and absorb how people interact with each other and mirror their behaviour. In these early years, your child’s experiences will have a profound impact on how they develop. This can affect everything from social skills to future academic outcomes. And a Pre-Nursery programme could be just what your child needs to get a head-start on their lifelong learning journey.

Higher levels of attainment

In a quality Pre-Nursery programme, your child can make the most of this pivotal time in their life. Because it is typically a child’s first experience with formal education, enrolling in Pre-Nursery gives a child a head-start on schooling. A play-based curriculum will spark in them a lifelong love of learning. By the time they reach age 5 and advance to year 1, they are acclimated to the daily routines and expectations in school life. Moreover, a growing number of studies are showing that children enrolled in Early Years schooling reach higher levels of attainment throughout their academic careers. Along the way, they develop stronger literacy and numeracy skills. They build strengths in oracy as too. And in a bilingual setting, your child has the added benefit of acquiring another language.

Greater emotional intelligence

But the benefits go far beyond academic achievement. Pre-Nursery is a time for a child to reach several important developmental milestones. For most children, Pre-Nursery is the first opportunity they have to get acquainted with social dynamics outside of the home. They get to interact with other children their age and practice important social norms like sharing, cooperating, listening and waiting one’s turn to speak. By interacting with other children, they gain a basic understanding of empathy. They also learn how to identify, express and cope with their emotions. Such skills are especially important for children who have no siblings close to their age at home. Moreover, they will be better prepared for the new social dynamics they will encounter once they enter Prep or Primary School.

Meeting crucial physical development milestones

This is also an age when children approach several physical development milestones. By the time a child reaches age 2, they can walk and run short distances, jump, stand on their toes and climb over furniture. In the coming year, they will need to develop greater strength and balance, so they can walk without falling or navigate a staircase with minimal assistance. A quality Pre-Nursery and further Early Years programme provides ample time and space for your child to develop their gross motor skills. Outdoor learning areas offer safe, age-appropriate equipment where they can run, jump and climb. They build strength and dexterity along with the confidence to take calculated risks.

Fine motor skills are equally important. These involve the muscles in the wrists, hands and fingers. They make buttoning a shirt as well as using a zipper, a pencil or eating utensils possible. Pre-Nursery activities, such as painting, stacking blocks, playing with sand or sculpting clay are fun and engaging ways to help young children develop these essential skills.

Strong parent-teacher partnerships

A Pre-Nursery education is not daycare. And a young child’s development does not simply pause outside of school hours. Your child’s success, therefore, depends upon your full engagement. A high-quality Pre-Nursery programme will offer parent partnership workshops. These are regular sessions in which teachers meet with parents to discuss their children’s progress and share ideas on how they can support their child’s academic, physical, emotional and social development outside the nursery. Often, young families, and parents with their first child, are also just starting to learn how they would like to parent. Any support and advice along the way — especially in this initial stage in your child’s development — will be critical, providing relief, strategies, and firsthand testimonials.

What to expect when applying

Because not all pupils develop at the same rate, most Pre-Nursery and Early Years programmes have an assessment process to ensure that it will be a proper fit. Typically, parents will accompany their child to the nursery, and a teacher will observe how they play and interact with other children. This is often followed by a talk with the nursery’s admissions team to discuss the child’s developmental milestones.

At this point, an Early Years pupil should meet a few basic requirements. They should be toilet trained or preparing to be so. They should have a basic understanding of hygienic practices, such as washing their hands on their own or blowing their nose. It is also important that they can use a spoon and fork when eating and a cup and straw when drinking. Beginning to dress themselves, even if lopsidedly so, is also important.

A sound investment in your child’s future

The value of Pre-Nursery and quality Early Years schooling cannot be understated. Giving your child a headstart on their lifelong learning journey will pay massive long-term dividends as they learn to thrive and achieve their maximum potential. You could not ask for a more sound investment in your child’s future.

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions your family will make. You want to be confident that your child will be educated in a safe, caring and supportive environment where they start every day eager to learn and grow. Our Admissions Team is here to guide you through everything you need to know about Wellington College, so you can make this momentous decision with confidence. The best way to support this decision is to visit in person or virtually and see for yourself at one of our open mornings or tailored tours.


Early Years Open Mornings

For children aged 4 and below by 1 September 2023 (Early Years)

We offer small group tours at our Early Years Centre. Please scan the QR code below to book a visit.

Our sessions are usually held on Tuesdays and Thursdays with our next sessions at 9am on:

  • 24 November (Thursday)
  • 8 December (Thursday)


Prep School Open Mornings

For children aged 5 and 6 by 1 September 2023 (Pre-Prep) and children aged 7-9 by 1 September 2023 (Lower Prep)

We arrange open morning sessions for children who are applying to years 1 through 5.

Please scan the QR code below to register for our next open morning.

Our sessions are usually held on Wednesdays with our next sessions at 9am on:

14 December (Wednesday)



Join the Wellington Community

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For questions, please contact admissions:

+(86-21) 5185-3885
+(86-21) 5185-3864