Should I send my child to preschool? Is it really necessary? If you are the parent of a toddler you have, no doubt, asked yourself this question.
While parents can do a lot at home to prepare their children for school, preschool does have many benefits. Most child development experts recommend some sort of group learning experience before children enter kindergarten.
Social interaction is one of the main positive aspects of preschool, said researcher, Baptist child life specialist. “The incorporation of structure and routine will prepare children for kindergarten,” researcher said.
So how do you choose the right preschool? Researcher advises parents to determine what type of preschool setting they want for their children. Make a list of the qualities that are important to you. Then collect information and tour a wide selection of programs.
But any program you choose should emphasize the importance of playtime. “Children learn through play. The school should recognize the importance of play in children’s lives. It’s kind of like their ‘work’,” researcher said. “Children at that age learn so much.”
Good programs offer activities and services to promote each child’s physical, social and emotional development, as well as children’s cognitive development, according to the National Association for the Education of the Young Child. The aim of any good program should be to ensure that all children reach school age with a solid foundation for learning and relating to others. It should also help parents learn what they can do to help their children develop.
Parents should look for a program where children spend most of their time playing and working with materials or other children. They should not be expected to sit quietly for long periods of time.
Children should have access to various activities throughout the day, such as building blocks, puzzles, art and music. Children should have long periods of time (at least one hour) to play and explore. Worksheets are used little, if at all. Children should have an opportunity to play outside every day.
Teachers should work with individual children, small groups and the whole group at different times during the day.
Remember that at the preschool level, it’s not as important what children learn, but that they develop social skills and a love of learning that will guide them throughout their lifetime.