Beyond ABC's: What every child should learn in Preschool

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We encourage the kids to express their creativity.
We encourage the kids to express their creativity. | Source

"What do you teach in school?" parents often ask us. After explaining that toddlers start off with learning their ABC's and 123's, they are quick to say, "Oh my child knows that already. He can even name all the flags, the planets and the animals in the zoo!"

Yes, kids are sent to school to learn facts and gain knowledge of the world. But do parents realize that their children need to learn more than that? Learning how to read and count is just one aspect of the whole learning experience. Read on and find out what other basic skills children need to learn so they grow well-armed to face the challenges of life.

Cognitive Skills

The word "cognition" is defined as "the act of knowing" or knowledge." Cognitive skills therefore refer to those skills that make it possible for us to know. When a child thinks, processes and analyzes, he is using his cognitive skills. Learning to read and count are examples of acquiring cognitive or academic skills. However, it should also be noted that this is not an automatic process. All cognitive skills must be taught and learned.

Language Skills

Language employs symbols - words, gestures or spoken sounds - to represent objects and ideas. Communication of language begins with spoken sounds combined with gestures. Children first learn to develop oral language (also known as receptive language) by listening to and understanding what they hear. It is then followed by expressive language wherein they now communicate using words, phrases and sentences.

The toddlers class taking the time to play in the garden.
The toddlers class taking the time to play in the garden. | Source

Psychomotor Skills

The physical development of a child also involves developing his fine and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the big muscle movements such as hopping, dancing and running. Fine motor skills involve movements of the small muscles like writing or coloring. Play aids in developing psychomotor skills. For example, an infant will first hit at a toy, then will try to grasp it, and eventually will be able to pick it up. Next, the infant will shake the rattle or perhaps bring it to the mouth. In these ways, the infant moves from simple to more complex gestures.

Self-Help Skills

It is important for children to learn to care for themselves and the environment around them. With proper guidance, every child could and should do for himself all that he is capable of doing. He is taught to be responsible for self-care, such as washing his hands, putting on his shoes, and getting dressed. The child is also taught to care for his environment by returning books and toys after using them, sponging the table after snacks, and mopping or sweeping the floor. This also helps a child value himself and respect the things around him.

The perfect time to teach kids how to respond and behave appropriately is during activities and their interaction with each other.  Sports and games also challenges them to compete as well as knowing what it means to be a sport.
The perfect time to teach kids how to respond and behave appropriately is during activities and their interaction with each other. Sports and games also challenges them to compete as well as knowing what it means to be a sport. | Source

Socio-Emotional Skills

The social and emotional growth of each child develops in a supportive environment. As a beginning preschooler, the child learns to trust his teachers and make friends. At the same time, he becomes more self-reliant and independent. Separation from parents is a significant element in gaining independence. At the same time, he is also learning the rules, routines and expectations of the classroom. This includes sitting in a circle, raising his hand to speak, or waiting for his turn. The child is also given opportunities to speak out and the people around him support and value his feelings and ideas. He is also taught how to handle emotions such as frustration, anger or hurt.

Values Education

Although this is not part of the five basic skills, it is one of the most important aspects that a child must learn in his growing years. Values like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, kindness and love must be modeled and taught. The character of a child will be crucial on how he will live his life in the coming years.

Gaining knowledge is not the only prerequisite to living a full life. Positive self-esteem and the ability to handle emotions like frustration and failure are necessary to maintaining healthy relationships in life. Teaching kids these basic skills early on will surely help them grow up well rounded and grounded. The title of a bestselling book by Robert Fulghum says it quite clearly: "Everything you really need to learn, you learn in kindergarten."

BY: MICHELLE SIMTOCO

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Comments 57 comments

Research Analyst profile image

Research Analyst 8 years ago

Wow, it is so true that children are at a time in their life where they have the ability to learn so much more than many of them get a chance to learn.


Blogger Mom profile image

Blogger Mom 8 years ago from Northeast, US

Excellent Hub! I have two little ones in preschool now, and it's so great to hear their stories when they come home. =) Best of luck with your preschool! - Blogger Mom


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

In an Asian educational system, children are so pressured to excel even at a young age. Competition is already at work. That is why I guess it is important for parents and school systems to remember that there is more to learning ABC's (and other knowledge)... and to be able to see the other aspects of growth that children are undergoing.

Research Analyst, thanks for your comment.

Blogger Mom, oh that's so cute...having two little ones is a joy. :-) And a great experience in preschool is something to treasure.


tjmum profile image

tjmum 8 years ago from Isle of Wight

I'm a little apprehensive of sending my eldest to nursery (as we have in the UK) when he reaches 3 this year. Basically because our schooling system has lost all elements of competiton so that even sports days are non-winning events, which I think is a little sad. Whilst it's true that you can push your children too much, it is also true that if they don't have an element of competition they will grow up to expect everything to be given to them when they want it without working for it, which is happening here already.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi tjmum, I appreciate your comment. I wonder why the school has totally (?) eliminated ALL elements of competition. Yes, I agree a healthy dose of competition is essential too. In our class activity (ex. science quiz bowl), we still award (ribbons) to those who got the 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. And we just reassure those who didn't get any to do better next time.

I mentioned something about competiiton in my comment (above). You see, I am a witness to parents who would often remind their children that they should get perfect scores in their quizzes. Sometimes the effect on the kids is that they become fearful of making mistakes.

Also, they "scold" their preschoolers if they do not get a "star" for the day. Can you imagine, one three year old child's response to the parent's constant pressure was to go up the chair and grabbed the stamp pad and stamped so many stars on his hand to show his dad that he did good. I felt terrible hearing that story.


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Wonderful info, ripplemaker.....those first few yars are soooooo important. Thanks


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi robie, I agree with you. :) thanks for reading and commenting.


sarah 8 years ago

i like it


Princessa profile image

Princessa 8 years ago from France

Absolutely right. Education is more than just learning facts and memorizing.

I must add that learning language skills for my children at preschool was crucial as we arrived in France without speaking French. They went straight into preschool and it was great for them. By the time they were ready for school their language skills in French were almost equal to their French peers.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Princessa, thanks for your comment and sharing. I am quite amazed at how kids adapt to a new language. We have a few korean students who enrolled in our school. And by the end of the year, the elder sister have learned English along with Filipino language. :)


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

ripplemaker,

Preschool is a very important part of a child's educational process. I think that you have pointed out beautifully that there is more learning going on than that of just the ABC's. Socialization is a very important thing in and of itself, that is learned at a preschool level. Great Hub!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Diana, thanks for your valuable comment :) The kids have an utterly different experience if they are just surrounded with adults compared when they are dealing with their own peers. :)It does make a big difference.


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

I loved reading this!!! Valuable information for parents and caregivers! After enrolling their children in the center I worked in, many parents would ask us what we taught the kids. It was hard to explain in just a few sentences. From birth to the start of school, children learn so much more than just their letters and numbers! Great hub!!!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Anna Marie, we echo the same sentiments! LOL Thanks for dropping by and commenting! :)


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

You are a wonderful pre-school teacher as I can see from this. Thanks for sharing your passion with us. A very lovely hub!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Sweetie Pie, I had to give way -- from teaching to handling the administrative and financial matters of the preschool. But since we have a small population, I still get to be involve one way or the other and making sure the philosophy we've set will be carried out. :) Thanks for dropping by and oh... belated happy birthday! :)


Shirley Anderson profile image

Shirley Anderson 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Michelle, are these pictures of your preschool kids? They are sooo cute!

It sounds like you are such a caring teacher, the kids are very lucky to have you in their lives.

Wonderful hub!


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

The philosophy of your school sounds so wonderful and any child who is lucky enough to attend will surely benefit in more ways than one. A great hub Michelle!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Shirley, yes, these are our kids at Dynamic Minds! Aren't they just adorable? :) I believe I too am very blessed to have them in my life. :) Without a doubt, it always brought out the "child" in me! Thanks for dropping by!

Hi Dottie, Stella and I strive to do our best in making sure our teachers implement what we believe in. And seeing the kids grow in many areas is our reward. Thanks for the comment! :)

It's wonderful to see both of you popping up here too! :) LOL


Kate Downs profile image

Kate Downs 8 years ago from New England

Excellent reference for measuring your child's progress and making sure prechool is giving them everything they need. Thanks for this great hub!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Kate, thanks for dropping by and commenting. :)


MasonsMom profile image

MasonsMom 8 years ago from U.S.A.

It's amazing how much my 2 year old has already learned--and how much he still has to learn! Great hub!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi MasonsMom, enjoy his learning journey :) thanks for reading this hub.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

At what age do the children you teach start full-time "grown-up" school?


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi LondonGirl, in the Philippines elementary level starts at 7 years old. My kids in our preschool is from 2 to 6. :-) Pretty young huh? But a lot of good things in this age. :-)


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

here, children start full-time primary school the term before they are 5, and some (not all, it's not compulsary) go to nursery school aged 3 and 4.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Kindergarten is now required for kids before they are accepted to elementary level. :-) Thanks for sharing the info.


hibiscus_mel profile image

hibiscus_mel 7 years ago from Marlton, New Jersey

Hello Michelle, kumusta.;-)

In my ten years of teaching it was when I taught pre school that I enjoyed most. Both parents and kids are enthusiatic of what's going on in school.;-)

Great hub Michelle.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi mel, it is joy being surrounded with kids right? :-) And most esp. if the parents are very supportive. You don't have any plans of teaching again?

Glad to hear from you!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Very good info! Most people teach their kids more than they think they do. It's definitely not all ABCs and 123s. I've read "Everything You Really Need to Learn, You Learn in Kindergarten". It is a fabulous book by the way. I remember reading it my first year in Education at university. I'm glad you mentioned that one.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Frieda, nice to see you here! Yes, I enjoyed reading that book and made me really ponder too. :-) Teaching can be meaningful esp. when we are able to go beyond the ABC's and the 123's.


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 7 years ago

When I was in school, I had to work in a pre-school for a few months. I don't know if I would be cut out for it for an entire career, but I certainly enjoyed it immensely while I was there. We had a mix of regular kids and some with speech and language delays, I really enjoyed coming up with creative ways of teaching concepts and language.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi mulberry1, it made me smile knowing that teaching kids and coming up with creative ideas was a wonderful experience for you, even it was a short while only. :-) It will be something you can treasure for a long long time. :-) Beautiful!


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 7 years ago from MA, USA

Hi ripplemaker, when my son was in preschool he had some tactile issues and couldn't deal with getting brushed up against from his classmates which at that age is all the time.  He was born 3 weeks early so lagged behind in his small and large motor skills and had to work with a team of occupational and physical therapists for years. 

What he learned in those early years was how to respect himself and others and how to step aside or move around those rambunctious children when he started to feel uncomfortable instead of hitting them which they didn't deserve but with tactile issues a child feels he got hit instead of being touched. 

Now that my son is older those early years of learning have payed off nicely in his adult years.  He is so gentle and respectful of other people and I know it was more so than I had taught him myself.  Early education is so very important!  Great hub!

 

 

 


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Dottie, thanks for sharing that triumphant story about your son. I agree. How we deal with children in their early years greatly affect how they will be in the future. The school and the teachers together with the help of the parents can truly make the difference. Now I would definitely want you to be on our parents list. Do you still plan to have a baby Sis Dottie or adopt one? Hahaha


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 7 years ago from MA, USA

You are welcome and Nope! Gone are the days!  I've already had one and adopted another. 

Anything I can do to help parents and teachers, and kids, I'm all ears! 

Let's take the kids for an ice cream.

Keep up the good work, sis!

 


Charia Samher profile image

Charia Samher 7 years ago

I’m always enthusiastic when it comes to child development stuff like this as I wanted to know everything that will help me bring up my child in a correct manner. Thanks!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Charia, I have realized that young parents are very much enthusiastic in wanting their children to learn everything LOL And sometimes they worry a lot too. Glad to meet another concerned and loving parent like you. :-)


Charia Samher profile image

Charia Samher 7 years ago

Yes sometimes I too become a worry freak and I tend to overdo things, but I'm more conscious of it now. =)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hahaha yes being aware helps. :-) And if you worry too much, just email me and I'll be your objective and yet compassionate ear. :-)


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

You seem to have it all together on this subject, I just adore young children unfortunately my own are grown, but it seems I did rather well in all the areas you mention.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Katy, congratulations for being a wonderful parent! I celebrate with you... :) Thanks for visiting!


mikicagle profile image

mikicagle 6 years ago from Oklahoma

As a first grade teacher I have to say that I think the most important skill that children acquire in preschool is Socio-Emotional. If they can distinguish the proper behavior to use in the classroom, on the playground, in the cafeteria, or in any social situation-it is easier to teach them the fundimentals (ABC's, 123's)


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

I agree with you! You'd be surprised how many parents I meet on a daily basis when their focus is on the cognitive skills and not on the socio-emotional skills. Thanks for sharing your insights. :)


ReaperChick 6 years ago

My son is 4 and the pre schools on my area are shut down, the state dont have the money to keep the schools going. My son wants to go but cant, so hes going to go straight from no school to kindergarden. What can i do to, i guess home school him. What are the basics he will need to know before kindergareden?


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

ReaperChick: Yes you can homeschool him, that's a wonderful option. Basic things to learn in cognitive skills are: colors, shapes, letters and sounds, names of common objects, things, family. Nursery is a wonderful time of discovery. You can have sessions on arts, coloring, painting, planting. You can aslo help him develop his self-help skills by teaching him to wear his shoes, return his toys. Read stories to him as well. Hope this helps. :)


bebe<>pierce 6 years ago

hi Michelle, it's an honor to add comment in your educational hub.. I think I have a problem with my 4yr old youngest son. He does not like the abc’s, he does not like home school, and he even does not want to go to school. He also dislikes the children’s’ programs on TV, but he pays attention to mature show or programs such as: true stories, reality shows, love stories, adventure, concerts, & even bible exposition! Sometimes it amazed me when he can actually judge who will win in a certain contest on TV! I have my full attention on him when he recites the lines of a preacher or a politician’s propagation...

At the age of two & three he learned to wear his shoes, wash his own (puwet hehe) & flush the toilet, brush his teeth & wash his hands. One time he confronted his older brother & older sister for not brushing their teeth before going to bed! Hahaha! Are these things normal for a young boy like him? what should i do to make him want to learn the abc's, 123's. "daghang salamat amiga"


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Sounds like you have a wonderful child who is smart, intelligent and curious. All these things are still about learning and acquiring knowledge. I guess these are the programs you watch so he picks it up from the adults around him. The learning of letters and numbers come from exposure (like you surround him with books with letters and numbers) or you can play a game with him with flashcards containing letters or numbers. Or you can just also integrate it into everyday routine. For instance, tell him to get his shirt that has the letter C on it. If he has a shirt on with that letter. Or when you are going to the mall, just point out, Jollibee starts with J. In time, he will naturally learn about these things. Salamat din. Ingat.


sheryle 6 years ago

Having taught preschool in a home child care environment for over 20 years, I have found the most important lessons I can give a child is to love to learn and to read. You are right to teach letters, shapes, numbers, colors as an aside to life. Count steps, crayons, m&m's. Line up trucks, make patterns with legos, rhyme silly nonsense words, make mud pies! Try to teach letters, etc., too early -- and 4 may be too early for a boy -- and you'll teach him to hate learning. Teach science, geography, and read, read, read, read some more! You will be surprised that one day he will know those "school" things.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Sheryle, that is indeed the most important thing--to learn to love learning and reading :) Couldn't agree more! Thank you for sharing your insights as it is very helpful and affirms this truth--exposure to knowledge in a fun way makes learning fun! I am in a preschool so we have a curriculum to follow...(grins) but we do it the multi-sensory way. So we learn stuff using songs, games, activities as well as read and write too. :)


cp 6 years ago

my daughter just turned 4 and she started kindergarten at a private school this past April. I can hardly afford to send her there but I wanted her to start school as soon as possible and she has adadpted to it with ease. She just told me today that she loved her teachers.

I can't tell you enough how much I stress about giving her a well rounded education and balanced life and end up trying to plan out her life in 1 day. In addition to school, I also enroll her in ballet or music just so she has that experience. We go to the library and get about 8-10 books and cd to listen to in the car every 3 weeks. I am a new parent and sometimes feel like I don't know what I'm doing or that I need to do more.

We've started home activities such as baking, planting and she's such a good listener and loves to help out with chores which i try to make fun.

Anyway, I came across your hub because again, I am stressing out about my daughter's education. I want to know what she should be learning, what should she already know so that I can nurture her properly.

I do get jealous of other parents when they tell me that they're child knows this and that and I have to remind myself that every child learns at their own pace.

But you're hub is a great reminder that they're are more things than just learning their alphabets and number.

Thank you.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

CP, I honor you dearly for being open enough to realize that YES, there are more important things than learning cognitive skills. Giving your child a balance education is a worthwhile goal. Be careful not into fall into the jealousy trap of comparing your child to another. Observe and watch your child and support her in finding her wings. Thank you for your sharing here. You just inspired me to write a series of hubs with our experience in our preschool with this topic. :) Have fun discovering the beauty of learning.


kymbalind 6 years ago

ripplemaker, you have inspired me to not pressure my little one so much into learning her (ABCs and 123s).lol. I am almost obssed with teaching my daughter cognitive skills so that she will be better prepared for school. But i also get frustrated when i think that she doesn't understand.I have 3 older children and I find myself comparing my 4 year old to the way my oldest learned.I have twin boys 9 and another daughter who is 8. My oldest daughter understood things so fast and apllied them in the right context.Instead of playing she wanted sit and read or do some kind of work. The boys learnd a alittle slower than her but they seemed to enjoy learning. My 4 year displays cognitive skills with other people but not with me, she shuts down. I thank you for sharing the importance of early child development skills other than learning the ABCs and 123s. I love the balance of teaching preschoolers great work habits and educational skills that will help them throughout their educational career.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Kymbalind, you are not alone I assure you. A lot of parents also make a lot of adjustments handling the different ways of their children. It would be so much easier if a manual comes with the baby right? LOL I loved reading your sharing. It shows your awareness of where you are at this moment and that is a big step. Now you can move forward and adjust and see where your daughter responds the most. Most of all, your seek for understanding and wisdom; and I believe if you do, you will be guided along the way. Love and light and much blessings to you and your family. :)


Tia Jimenez profile image

Tia Jimenez 5 years ago

I think it's amazing what children have the abilty to learn with a little help :)


benhunt 4 years ago

Preschool age is also the perfect age to learn other languages. I've done some work with Ana Lomba, who specializes in preschool language learning. She has guides for teaching Spanish and French to preschoolers, well worth checking out. See http://www.spanishforpreschoolers.com/ and http://frenchforpreschoolers.com/


Irene 4 years ago

Very informative...as an Early childhood Studies Masters student..this is good work. Keep it up.

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