When you think of preschool, what do you envision? Are you afraid that your child is still too small to be placed in a structured environment? Does it scare you how they might cope with the separation?
Well, don’t be. Preschool can only help your child.
Starting kindergarten was a big deal when you were growing up, but how many kids are experiencing their first school milestone even earlier.
Preschool programs for young children are becoming increasingly common, with 68 per cent of four-year-olds and 40 per cent of three-year-olds enrolled in a preschool program in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Before entering the " real " school system, you might think of preschool as an optional bonus for kids before entering the “real” school system.
But there are undeniable benefits of preschool when deciding whether these educational programs are suitable for their little ones.
Children gain a lot from preschool because they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes.
But, more importantly, they develop social and emotional skills and learn how to get along with other children, share, and tribute.
Findings show that children who attend high-quality preschool enter schools with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and more vital basic math skills than those who do not.
So why not insist on preschool education when it can only help when preschool is suitable for your child?
Know this: the 3-6-year olds are like little sponges at that age. They can take in so much, even more than you think.
You, as a parent, should make use of this time to equip your little ones with the skills they need in their lives.
Homeschooling your children at this age might give them an excellent academic head start (ONLY if you are educated in early childhood education to do so). Still, this type of schooling will fail to develop their social and emotional skills of utmost importance for their future.
And these skills get developed by children being around other children their age. So here are some reasons why preschool is suitable for your child:
Benefits of Preschool
Preschool offers many hidden benefits to children and their families, from encouraging healthy development to providing parents with a more affordable alternative to daycare.
Preschool Provides a Foundation for Learning, Both Socially and Academically
Young children are naturally curious and observant. They want to learn the skills that their families and society value — such as reading the instructions for assembling a toy or selecting the correct bills or coins to pay for a purchase.
To prepare children for the academic demands of school, teachers will offer a wide variety of games and activities that will help them acquire necessary academic and social skills.
Preschool Is an Opportunity for Kids to Be in a Structured Setting
Preschool is an opportunity for them to be in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children where they will learn to share and follow instructions, raise their hand when they want to ask a question, take turns, and share the teacher’s attention.
Every child should have this sort of group experience before they start school.
Preschool Will Prepare Children for Elementary School Where Things Get More Academic
Don’t be afraid that focusing on the development of pre-math and pre-literacy skills will make your child grow up too soon.
These will not cut into important playtime that every child deserves. Instead, a high-quality childhood education offers both.
These programs are based on learning through play, so learning will be fun for your kid, have no doubt!
Preschool Will Help Your Child Develop Socially and Emotionally
In preschool, your children will learn how to compromise, respect others, and solve problems.
Preschool will provide a place where your child will gain a sense of self, explore, play with their peers, and build confidence.
Kids in preschool usually discover that they are capable and can do things for themselves instead of always asking mommy to step in.
They will learn wonders – from small tasks like pouring their juice and helping set snack tables to tackling more significant issues like deciding how to spend their free time. Isn’t that an important step for them?
Preschool Will Help Your Children Find Answers to Their Numerous Questions
The fact is that four and 5-year-olds will start asking some excellent questions about the world around them, like “what happens to the water after the rain? Do birds play?”
Even you as a parent might become confused when answering some of their questions, but the preschool will make your job easier. It will teach your children to find answers through exploration, experimentation, and conversation.
They Will Learn Their ABCs and 123s
Young children will learn letters and numbers in preschool, but at their own pace and playing games.
Preschool does not sit kids down and ‘teach’ them because that would be the wrong way to do it. Instead, they teach them through activities your kids find interesting, like story-time, talking to the teachers about stars, playing with blocks, etc.
For example, to help kids learn the language and strengthen their pre-reading skills, teachers in preschool play rhyming games and let kids tell stories.
To help kids learn pre-math skills, teachers will ask their little students to count food items during snack time, use a calendar to count down days to their long-awaited preschool play, or play memory games with them.
Preschool Teaches Children to Follow Directions
Every parent knows the frustration of repeating themselves over and over while their young child completely ignores them.
Parents may not realise that following directions is a skill that children hone over time—and preschool can help make this happen.
Elizabeth Malson, president of the Amsler Institute, shares that preschool gives kids additional opportunities to follow basic directions like line up or wash their hands.
Even though these simple tasks, “children learn to listen to adults and view them as authority figures.”
Preschool Helps Children Adjust to Kindergarten
It can be a big adjustment for a young child to navigate the workings of a classroom for the first time in kindergarten.
Preschool programs, even those that are only part-time, can help kids make the transition.
Exposure to school routines in preschool prepares them for the structure and expectations of kindergarten.
In addition to seeing the basic rhythm of a school day, children also learn hygiene routines like washing hands before eating and how to take care of their belongings in their cubby.
Preschool Establishes Social and Emotional Development
Preschool is much more about developing social-emotional skills than it is about developing academic skills.
These social-emotional skills include learning to share and take turns, showing empathy for classmates and self-regulating their own strong emotions.
Without skills like these, children will have a hard time moving on to academic achievement in later years.
Preschool provides a safe but challenging environment for children to learn how to manage the loss of a toy to another child during play or sit quietly and listen to a short story without interrupting.
These experiences help them explore different feelings and create the foundation for self-regulation.”
Publicly Funded Preschools Can Save Parents Money
There’s no arguing with the fact that childcare in the United States is expensive.
The Center for American Progress reports that it costs an average of $760 per month to send a preschooler to a licensed childcare centre, an amount that puts many working parents in a financially tight spot.
A preschool is an option that can help offset this cost while providing high-quality education to kids in their formative years.
Head Start programs are available for free to families who meet income eligibility requirements.
Many areas also offer free or low-cost preschools that are publicly funded.
Preschool programs like these can add up to thousands of dollars of savings for parents currently funding full-time childcare.
Preschool Provides Opportunities for Play
Is play a benefit of preschool?
It might seem simple, but research shows that playful experiences prepare children for “deeper learning,” especially in essential skills like executive functioning.
Preschool exposes children to many different types of play that they may not have access to at home.
Ultimately, the most excellent value of preschool is inherent in the power of play and exploration.
The early brain is insatiably curious, and quality preschools provide vast opportunities for children to have exposure to various subjects, the arts, creative processes and literature.
Preschool Encourages Physical Development
Believe it or not, physical development directly impacts a child’s ability to learn.
Fine motor skills are necessary for kids to hold a pencil and learn to write as they get older, and gross motor skills are the whole-body movements that allow kids to balance and coordinate their actions.
Preschool environments give kids what they need to progress in these critical physical developments, including plenty of time spent outdoors.
Preschool helps children make mind-body connections that develop these skills and boost their self-confidence as children feel physically capable and self-sufficient in their bodies.
Preschool Can Reduce the Need for Special Education Services
Special education services are often available to children who aren’t achieving developmental milestones or performing at a rate comparable to their peers in the classroom.
Though these services are an essential intervention for kids who need them, the research is detailed that preschool can often prevent kids from falling behind in the first place.
A report states that children who attend high-quality preschool programs are less likely to utilise special education services or be retained in their grades and are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, and succeed in their careers than those who have not attended high-quality preschool programs.
Preschool Contributes to Education Equality
Preschool makes a difference that goes far beyond individual children and their families. The same DOE report shows that access to high-quality pre-primary education can be the key that unlocks education equality across races, geography and income.4
The report states that children who don’t have access to the benefits of preschool may begin kindergarten at a substantial disadvantage in both academic and social-emotional skills.
For some children, starting school from behind can trap them in a cycle of continuous catch-up in their learning.
Grants and publicly funded preschool programs like Head Start are working on expanding access to early education so that the benefits of preschool are available to all children across the nation.
Choosing the Right Preschool for Your Child
Nearly all the research that has been done in this area has shown that for kids to experience the lasting benefits of preschool, the teachers need to be highly trained in providing early childhood education.
So what should parents be looking for when choosing a preschool program?
Parents should research the availability of high-quality preschools in their area so that they know what to expect from the programs available.
Most states have a Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) that parents can utilise for identifying the local preschools with the highest ratings.
Parents should ask about:
- assessments that are done in the classroom to monitor progress
- the education and experience levels of teachers and assistants
- turnover rates for the school staff
- where the staff has received training from, specifically about early childhood education
Be wary of those programs with a high turnover rate for teachers, as consistency within a classroom is critical for children to develop those supportive relationships with teachers.
Cognitive and Academic:
- Literacy: reading and writing
- Numeracy: the numbers and some basic math, such as addition
- Science: animals, nature, body parts, and more
- Learning through play and discovery: observing, navigating, and describing the environment
- Miscellaneous: the seasons, telling the time, health and hygiene, and more
Social and Emotional:
- Independence and self-reliance
- Resolving conflict
Language and Literacy:
- Vocabulary and identification of objects
- Communication through sentences
Concerns With Preschool
This is not to say preschool is without its detractors. But, unfortunately, some have raised criticisms against preschool or at least specific preschool programs. Below, we outline some of the primary sources of concern.
Lack of One-On-One Time
Some argue it’s best to keep young children at home for most of the years before formal schooling begins (at least until the age of three).
Although preschools tend to have low teacher-to-student ratios, it isn’t one-to-one. This means a teacher’s attention is often divided, and there is less individualised attention than at home.
And the importance of one-on-one time for some kids cannot be disputed. But, that said, most agree that at a certain age, usually four or five (at the oldest), kids need lots of interaction with their age-peers. This helps them develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
Learning Too Early
Some preschools, it’s claimed, force kids to learn too early. This is a particular concern with academic programs.
They are learning subjects such as reading, writing, and math before one’s ready can lead to frustration and interfere with a love of learning.
That said, many alternative preschools, such as Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia, usually delay introducing certain subjects until kids are interested and ready.
Many young children find it difficult to separate from their parents. Some may need more personal attention and may not be ready to attend school.
For others, though, the anxiety quickly recedes (after the first week or two), and they go on to thrive in preschool.
Less Social Opportunities
Some preschools, especially academic ones, have fewer social activities. These programs also have less play-based learning.
Many preschools don’t allow children to attend when they’re sick. Some are also closed during the summer and statutory holidays and may not offer before- or after-care programs.
Some critics argue that preschool programs have little, if any, impact on academic success. Whatever advantages preschool kids have over those without preschool education, it’s claimed, usually, disappear after grade 2.
What Research Shows About Preschool
Whether to send your child to preschool (private or public) is an important decision. One factor that needs to be weighed is how effective preschool is, both short and long term.
What, then, does the research say about the effectiveness of preschool? While the jury is still out, most research studies indicate that preschool seems to have benefits for many children.
Preschool Is More Than Play
You can see that these surprising benefits of preschool extend far beyond giving kids the chance to play with their friends all day.
These benefits of preschool are all thanks to supportive, trained preschool teachers who make learning come alive in their early childhood classrooms each day.
If you can’t get enough information about how young kids learn and develop, you might make a great preschool teacher yourself!
Keep in mind that preschool is all about having fun and acquiring social skills for small children – not achieving academic milestones.
Kids need to be imaginative and socialise because that’s what fosters creative and well-rounded people; it’s not about whether they can read by age four or multiply by 5, although they might.
And don’t forget: your child’s education does not stop once they come home from preschool. Oh, no! They will have a bunch of stories to tell and many questions to ask.
What You Can Do at Home to Further Develop Their Social and Emotional Skills
When they are feeling down, sit down with your child and discuss the feelings and events that made them feel a certain way: ask what happened over their day and how they felt about what happened.
Also, talk about future events: what they will do next and how they will act.
Brainstorm problem-solving strategies with your child. For example, you can read interactive books with them, such as Twiggle the Turtle, where turtle Twiggle goes inside his shell when he gets upset, takes a deep breath, and then says what bothers him and how it makes him feel.
You can model this problem-solving strategy with your child too. Please encourage your child to use these tricks too to gain self-control (by crossing their arms instead of hitting impulsively, taking a breath to calm themselves down, and then using words to describe how they feel instead of crying).
Practice the age-old advice: read, read, and read to your child, and have them read to you. Interactive reading is crucial to language development.
In preschool, children will learn to strengthen their social and emotional development. ... Preschool provides an environment for children to explore, gain a sense of self, play with peers and build self-confidence. Children learn they can accomplish tasks and make decisions without the help of their parents.
- Social Development. At preschool, your child will get the opportunity to socialize and figure out how to get along with other children. ...
- Basic Knowledge. ...
- Cognitive Skills. ...
- Learning Needs. ...
- Fine Motor Skills.
less likely to repeat a grade. less likely to be identified as having special needs. more prepared academically for later grades. more likely to graduate from high school.