Why All Children Should Attend Preschool
Preschool is usually thought of as a formal educational program for children ages three and four. In preschool, children learn social skills, work on large and fine motor skills, and learn the educational foundations that will get them ready for kindergarten. Sending a child to preschool is not the same as sending them to daycare. At preschool there should be purposeful learning happening and a curriculum for teachers to follow.
As a preschool teacher I can share some of the benefits my students are recieving from attending school at the age of four. Since the standards in kindergarten have gotten so high, it is necessary to send children to preschool. Kindergarteners no longer learn social skills, or even some of the foundational skills that they used to learn. Basically, preschool is what kindergarten used to be. By the end of kindergarten children are required to be reading, writing, adding and subtracting. Even in full day programs there is no longer time for play, socialization, rest time or even recess. At my school, kindergarteners only get fifteen minutes of recess a day. Because of this shift, preschool is a necessity.
Image courtesy of sixninepixels/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
How Does An Early Childhood Education Impact Students
Benefits Of Pre-K
There are so many reasons for children to attend a preschool program, but I'm going to highlight the ones that I believe are the most important.
Preschool children learn foundational skills that prepare them for kindergarten. In pre-k, children learn how to write their names, identify letters and sounds, rhyme, ready site words, write phonetically, count to at least twenty, make and recognize patterns, sort by various attributes and much, much, more. These are skills that kindergarten teachers expect children to know when they enter kindergarten. If children don't know these skills, they are already behind and will have to catch up. Being behind not only makes the job harder for the teacher, but it also puts stress on the child. Children always know when they are not as knowledgeable as the other kids.
Children who attend pre-k have to ability to learn social skills. They have centers to play in and typically have about thirty minutes for recess. These are opportunities for children to learn how to play together and get along. This is a life long skill that children will need for the rest of their lives. During conflicts teachers are able to teach conflict resolution skills. These skills will be a lifetime tool to these children. Kindergarten teachers don't have time to deal with conflict resolution because they have so many standards to address. This means that students are sent to time out or send out of the classroom every time they become disruptive or have conflicts with other children. By going to preschool, these disruptions and conflicts are lowered because children know how to handle them independently and appropriatly.
Studies show that a preschool education is one of the most beneficial decisions a parent can make for a child. Children who attend preschool have higher graduation rates in both high school and college. They average higher paying jobs and lower incarseration rates. Researchers believe this is partly because of the conflict resolution skills learned and the ability to work with others in a team.
Learning through play is the most appropriate way for children to learn. In preschool they are able to work in centers and learn through play with materials they choose. Teachers are able to use student interest to drive their instruction and interact with children in ways that make children believe they are just playing. Little do they know that there is purpose behind that play and the teacher is taking advantage of every teaching opportunity she can!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What Should You Do As A Parent
Parents are the very first teacher a child ever has. As a parent you should really try to enroll your child into a developmentally appropriate preschool program. Some states offer free programs for all children, and other states offer free programs for at risk students. At risk does not mean that they are incapable or unintelligent. It simply means that they have some factors that could negatively impact their readiness for kindergarten. If your state or local school has this kind of program, you should have your child tested. If you don't have any free preschool options you may be able to find a program at a church or daycare. You may even want to pay a private organization. Make sure you look into the programs used and find out if teachers are certified or not. Also ask questions about the standards and curriculum being used. Do research and make sure the program is appropriate for your child. If the school is doing a lot of paper and pencil work, it may not be developmentally appropriate. Children should be doing a lot of hands on and discorvery work. Pen and paper work should be minimal.
If you cannot get your child into a program don't worry, there are things you can do to help them Whether your childs attends pre-k or not, you still need to work with them at home. Make sure you read to your child daily. You can even get them their own library card and let them pick out their own books. Reading to a child will not only teach children to love reading, but it will help them become better readers, writers, and thinkers. They will be able to retell stories, sequence, and relate information from their own lives to the story.
Encourage writing whenever possible. Just because they are not writing words or sentences does not mean that their writing is not meaningful. The more a child handles pens, pencils, crayons, and paper, the better they will be at writing. When they draw a picture you can ask them to tell you about the story. See how many details they can give you,
Teach your child to write his or her name. Name writing is exciting to children because it is something that is their own. Teach them to write from top to bottom and help them identify the letters in their names. Once they've learned the letters in their name, help them learn the rest of the alphabet letters.
Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Here Are Some Books To Read With Your Child - Build Up Their Personal Library
Kids love books and they really need books in order to learn. Choose books that are enjoyable to you and your child. Here are some of my favorites and some of the students' favorites.