Finding the right childcare can be stressful — lots of options can lead to lots of self-doubt. For parents struggling with the decision, it’s important to remember the big picture: Although preschool can take many forms, it’s widely considered to be great for young children. Here, we’ll take a look at why that is, and what makes high-quality preschool so important.
Why Should I Consider Sending My Child to Preschool?
A growing body of research shows the many benefits of preschool. Children are exposed to different stimuli, numbers, letters, and shapes. They learn to experiment and socialize; they practice getting along with others; they share; they participate in circle time.
Kids who attend preschool before kindergarten have been shown to have an academic head-start: They tend to be better at pre-reading, use more words, and display a stronger aptitude in math. They also learn to take turns and raise their hands before speaking: two vital habits that make the transition to kindergarten easier.
One body of research puts the short- and long-term benefits into clear-as-day terms: Preschool graduates have “higher levels of education and earnings, less involvement in delinquency and crime, and fewer chronic health problems.”
The Experts Have Spoken. Top Reasons to Send Your Child to Preschool
Here some of the top reasons why preschool is so important for young children:
1. Opportunity for Growth
Preschool is most toddlers’ first experience in a social setting with teachers and other kids. That means it’s a great opportunity for them to learn to share, follow directions, and cultivate other skills that lay the foundation for elementary school.
2. Prepare for Kindergarten
Any high-quality preschool will be staffed with experts who understand how young children learn. Teachers will design age-appropriate curricula; set up a bright, colorful space; and create activities on-par with social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. There’s no need to worry that preschool will be too “academic” or too much “play”; rather, the best programs incorporate a healthy mix of both.
3. Improve Social and Emotional Development
Preschool provides limitless opportunities to learn social skills and practice self-control in everyday situations. Toddlers can learn from these real-time moments, when teachers help them get a grip on their frustration and anger.
The best preschool teachers know when they should step in and when children can work things out themselves, all without discouraging or shaming. Children, in turn, learn to recognize the impact of their behavior — good or bad — on their classmates.
4. Exposure to a Structured Environment
Structured environments help children learn to make friends and play nicely with others. But they’re not places where teachers hover constantly and bark orders. At the best preschools, rules and structures remain largely invisible to children, and classroom design encourages positive social interactions while minimizing the chance of conflict.
5. Opportunity for Decision Making
Preschool gives children the opportunity to try out whatever activities they find interesting. Teachers are always on-hand to make suggestions and offer gentle pointers about what might be fun and enriching.
6. Build Autonomy
As preschoolers learn to care for themselves and others, their sense of competence and self-worth grows. Teachers stoke children’s desire to mimic adults and “help out” by offering “chores” and tasks around the classroom. Preschool also encourages resourcefulness; for example, a teacher might ask a more experienced child to show one of her classmates how to do something.
7. Improve Language and Cognitive Development
Preschool offers an environment rich in vocabulary. Teachers help children expand their language skills by asking open-ended questions and introducing new words.
Children will also have plenty of chances to read aloud, sing, talk and act out stories. Thanks to hands-on activities that encourage observation, asking questions, experimentation and problem-solving, their cognitive skills will improve.
How to Know Whether Your Child Is Ready To Enter Preschool
As for the big question — how can you tell if your child is ready for preschool — there are a few signs to watch for. You know your child best, so remember that it’s possible to be ready for preschool even when some, but not all, of these indicators are present.
1. They’re comfortable alone.
Younger children who aren’t used to spending time away from their parents often have separation anxiety. If your toddler is comfortable playing solo without you in sight, rest assured that adjusting to preschool should be relatively easy.
Test the waters by having your child stay with a family member or babysitter for an afternoon — you’ll get a sense of what behavior looks like without you there.
2. They’re potty trained.
Some preschools require that children be completely potty trained before their start date. That makes the “Is she ready?” question a no-brainer.
3. They can concentrate on one task for a while.
Preschool often asks children to focus on one task or activity for 15 or 20 minutes long. If that’s longer than the attention span your child displays at home, it’s time to practice.
4. They can happily interact with other children.
The best way to help your child socialize is to expose them to other kids as early and often as possible. That’s how they’ll learn to share, take turns, ask politely, and listen to others.
The Importance of Early Childhood Education: Give Your Child The Best Start in Life
Early childhood education sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behavior, and health. A child’s preschool experiences shape the brain and contribute to the capacity to learn, socialize, and respond to stressors and challenges.
The Importance of Early Childhood Education
Your child’s day-to-day environment is vital to their learning, and toddlers need regular opportunities to participate in activities that teach new skills and fine-tune existing ones.
That’s why early childhood education is so important in any toddler’s curriculum. Vivvi’s teachers help children reach their developmental milestones so they’re ready for preschool and beyond. We use carefully crafted activities, toys, and books to facilitate early learning. Our teachers are always on-hand to gently encourage socialization and expose children to new and familiar activities.