When thinking about your child’s education, preschool is typically the first step. Not all children attend preschool however, making some parents wonder if it is even necessary. Don’t kids just play, color and sing songs all day? The short answer is an overwhelming “no.” Educators strongly believe that not only is preschool necessary, it helps lay the foundation for a successful school experience later on. Here are six reasons why enrolling your children in a quality preschool is a great investment in their future.
Preschool promotes social and emotional development.
An important aspect of going to school is learning how to interact with others. Indeed, many kindergarten teachers feel that developing social and emotional skills is more important to kindergarten success than developing early academic skills. Kara Meador, director of early childhood for The Seven Hills School, says that in preschool, children learn to be positive members of a group.
“They learn to take turns, and listen to and value what others have to say,” Meador says. ”When children attend preschool, they also learn to problem-solve appropriately, and how to demonstrate respect for others through sharing, cooperation and collaboration.”
Preschool makes the transition to kindergarten smoother.
The structure, expectations and unfamiliarity of a kindergarten classroom can be a big adjustment for any child. Not only is the environment new, but children may be asked to learn in a way that is new to them as well. Young learners who have been to preschool before jumping into kindergarten might have an advantage when navigating new territories. “Attending pre-kindergarten provides children with the foundations of learning, while they develop a love for learning,” Meador says.
Preschool encourages independence and trust.
Many preschool-aged children are understandably dependent on their parents as the primary trusted adults in their lives. In a quality preschool program however, young children will learn to rely on other adults as well. Rabbi Yosef Y Kalmanson of Chai Tots Early Childhood Center adds that good preschool teachers will also ask students to assist their peers in different tasks to boost self-confidence. In the safety of the preschool environment, children can learn to take chances and trust themselves, their peers and their teachers.
Preschool exposes children to early math and literacy skills.
A quality preschool program sets the stage for academic growth and gets kids excited about learning. Good preschools know how to introduce concepts in a developmentally appropriate way that stimulates children’s natural curiosity without overwhelming them.
“There is much research that documents the positive effect that quality preschool programs have on early math and literacy skills,” says Kathy Scott, Montessori director at The Summit Country Day School. “Children who regularly attend a preschool may gain about a third of a year of additional learning over non-preschool children.”
Preschool develops fine and gross motor skills.
Just as children are expanding their cognitive skills at preschool, so are they enhancing their physical skills. From gaining the precise muscle movement to hold a pencil or use scissors to developing the coordination to run and jump in games with other kids, preschool provides multiple opportunities to improve physical skills in an enjoyable way.
Preschool offers experiences not always available at home.
The ability to explore and experiment with new objects or materials in a way that may not be practical at home is another benefit to enrolling a child in preschool. Many preschools also offer opportunities for exposure to art, science, history or language in ways that are developmentally appropriate for young learners.
“The prepared preschool environment provides an array of alternative learning opportunities and experiences for the young child,” Scott says.
So, while playing, coloring and singing may indeed be a big part of a typical preschool day, it’s important to recognize that valuable skills are being encouraged in the process. Take the time to research and visit preschools in your area to find the best fit for your little student — and then watch as they grow and thrive in their first school experience!