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.
1. Preschool promotes social and emotional development.
An important aspect of going to school is learning how to interact with others. “Research studies have found that kindergarten teachers rated social emotional skills as more important to kindergarten success than knowing how to read and write,” says Karen Ruprecht, PhD., Director of Innovation in Early Education at Early Learning Indiana. Preschool offers children opportunities to make friends, deal with conflict, manage difficult emotions and show respect and restraint. Children can practice these skills with their peers while experienced teachers help model appropriate behaviors along the way.
2. 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. Having been to preschool however, young learners have some experience navigating new territories. “A high quality preschool helps prepare children for kindergarten by exposing them to structured play environments that are designed around their interests,” says Ruprecht. “In addition, it can expose children in a developmentally appropriate way to new information, such as letters, numbers and shapes.”
3. Preschool encourages independence and trust.
Many preschool age 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. Tammy Clark, Director of Polly Panda Preschool, says, “Independence and trust are developed when children are given the chance to make their own choices and to feel confident about their choices.” In the safety of the preschool environment, children can learn to take chances and trust themselves, their peers and their teachers.
4. 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. Julie Bowman, owner of several area Primrose Schools, says her program places a high value on weaving literacy throughout their curriculum as well as taking basic counting and number recognition skills further by introducing measurement, geometry and patterning.
5. 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 with kids on the playground, preschool provides multiple opportunities to develop physical skills in an enjoyable way.
6. Preschool offers experiences not always available at home. And preschool is fun!
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.
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. As Bowman says, “When you first walk into the classroom, you may hear noise, but when you listen carefully, what you are really hearing is the joy of exploring and learning with friends.”