Why Preschool Education Is Important For Your Child
Early Childhood Education 101
Deciding on a Preschool Education
I was one of those parents who was fortunate to be at home during my children's early formative years. I worked out of my home and traveled when our first son was young and we could take him with us while traveling. Once he turned three years of age, we decided to place him in a preschool which only met in the mornings and we chose three half days a week. We wanted our child to have a quality preschool education. While there was no primary emphasis on learning academic skills at this school, there was an emphasis on building the whole child; learning basic social skills in a group setting and having the opportunity to have a structured morning of songs, stories, outdoor activities, art, making snacks every Friday, and listening to different kinds of music and using musical instruments. They learned self-help skills, responsibility, and how to get their own snack and drink set out properly on the table. They each took turns with assigned jobs such as door holder, line leader, snack helper, calendar girl/boy, pet feeder and a few others that would change during the year.
The teacher had a degree in early childhood education and expected and gave respect to each student and parent. It worked somewhat like a co-op and we had to volunteer one morning a month. We then had to move because of reassignment with our company and ended up in upstate New York. We decided to put our son in a half-day preschool again in preparation for Kindergarten and I gave birth to our second son. The time my oldest was at school gave me time with my newborn. We did the same with our second son when he turned 4 placing him in preschool on a part-time basis. I believe those early years helped form their character and gave them a diverse experience of learning about others and adopting the social skills and structure that are necessary for a successful school career.
When my children were old enough to be on their own at home, I went back to work full time in the classroom as an early childhood educator. I have taught in both public and private school settings. I believe there are five primary, significant reasons why preschool is an important choice for the children and the parents.
Why Preschool Is So Important
Five Significant Reasons For a Preschool Education
1. Brain development is highest during the first four years of life. The brain is forming important neural paths to help develop the child's ability to perform and function and learn well. Children are able to learn at a rapid rate and want and need to learn new information. I've heard so many teachers and parents remark that at this age their child's brain is like a sponge.
Their brain absorbs information and stores it, often feeling saturated with new input (another important reason your child needs at least 10 hours of sleep). But that is precisely one of the functions of the brain. Your child can benefit immensely when interacting in a quality preschool which is content rich with appropriate information and materials.
2. Going hand in hand with brain development is structure. Structure is vital for the young preschooler and the child thrives in a loving, structured environment with stimulating colors, sounds, textures, classroom layout, varying activities and books. The child learns routine and expectations and begins to look forward to the next activity.
Their little brains help them process these codes of familiarity and it gives the child a sense of security and belonging. Once they are settled into the structure and routine of the preschool classroom, it begins to build a solid framework for their future school career which will be much more structured and demanding.
3. Social skills are next on the list and they are important to learn at this age rather than waiting until Kindergarten age or later. One of the reasons older children may have difficulty in school is that they never really learned the social skills in preschool. Social skills such as learning how to listen, nice talk, brave talk, taking turns, acceptance of multi-cultural differences, apologies, when to say please and thank you, how to speak in a group, helping each other, learning compassion and empathy.
There are so many rich opportunities for a child to develop social skills and every Kindergarten teacher I ever communicate with always lists these as being THE most important skills to learn in preschool. It is important that a child learns early that the world does not revolve around him alone, and it helps the child learn that we live in a multicultural society full of many different kinds of people.
Preschool - Kindergarten Smartboard Phonics Activity
4. Academics are now being emphasized more than in past years because there is more research substantiating that a child is able to learn and perform more than what we used to expect. Also, there are more academics in the preschool curriculum now because the schools expect a child entering Kindergarten to know what once used to be taught in kindergarten.
Are all children going to learn to write letters well at the age of three? No. But given the opportunity to have a writing center with all different kinds of writing utensils and paper, the child will begin to strengthen his fine motor skills which are needed to learn how to write properly. Most Kindergartens expect the child to enter school knowing how to print the alphabet, numbers 1-10 (some 1-20), write their first and last name, display basic social skills and have an ability to comprehend and follow directions.
Many preschools have introduced smartboard technology into the academic curriculum. A teacher needs to be trained on how to use them and integrate their use into the classroom. It is a fantastic addition to the way children learn, and I'm fortunate enough to work in a school which uses smartboard technology. It engages the children, helps them to focus and fine tune their motor skills. I have included a video example of a phonics smartboard lesson. The children progress well using this technology.
5. Last and not least on why preschool is important is the needed space it gives you as a parent to work or have time to pursue interests, hobbies, friends as an adult in your adult world. As a parent, one still needs to grow and learn and give to the community if that is something you enjoy doing. The child needs this time away from his parents and home to learn about the world, about people, about accepting others, making new friends. Children learn trust and independence. Mom can't always be there doing everything for the child.
When given the opportunity to do things on his/her own or with a group, the child is learning important work attributes that are necessary in his future. Many businesses and companies work together in teams and depend on each other to contribute and know how to team project. And there are opportunities for the child to learn how to work on his own, at his own pace, making his own expectations and goals. The preschool setting can be that strong foundation for a successful school/work career making it easier to enjoy a fulfilling life.
The Creative Curriculum for Preschool
Excellent resource book, it covers everything! Even if you don't specifically use the Creative Curriculum as your teaching model, this book is so useful and very easy to read.
Preschool Teachers Help Build The Future
I hope this has helped anyone who is thinking about placing their child in preschool or already has their child in preschool and that it will better help you understand its importance not only on the child's life, but on society as a whole. Preschool teachers, in my opinion, are the world's unsung heroes. They do an extraordinary amount of work and good for our world as our children are any country's greatest asset. We are building the future together. A quality preschool education can be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child.
Research and Additional Helpful Links
- Brain Architecture
Early experiences affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.
- Preschool Social Skills
How to nurture and improve preschool social skills. Why parents are more important than peers. Science-based tips on teaching social competence.