The formative years of childhood involve rapid development. For the first eight years of a child’s life, they are a sponge – growing physically, mentally, and emotionally, and fast. The early childhood years are precious and prime to jumpstart a lifetime of learning.
As a parent, you face many important decisions regarding your child’s upbringing. The focus on parenting styles, discipline, screen-time, and education are common conversations among parenting circles today. The choices you make can weigh heavily on your mind as a parent. You want the best for your child. And, for many, that means starting out with a solid foundation of education, with a quality preschool program.
But there are those who still feel that preschool is not that important. Many adults today will say “Well I didn’t go to preschool, and I turned out fine.” While this may be true, it is also true that we can always improve. Why not shoot for better than “fine”? Still, some parents are skeptical on the impact that a preschool education program can have on a young child.
If you are asking yourself, “Is preschool important?”, read on. Here we will explore the many benefits of preschool for young learners, and how it can help set them up for successful learning experiences down the road.
Research Supports the Importance of Preschool
According to Every Child Matters, a children’s advocacy organization, there is overwhelming evidence supporting preschool education. Specifically, “Children who enter kindergarten behind are likely to remain behind throughout their educational careers and beyond.” In other words, those who do not receive early childhood education during the Pre-K years, are more likely to fall behind in their future academics. Choose a great preschool for your child can mean setting them up for success.
In addition, studies show that children who receive quality, early education between the ages of 0 and 5 (such as in a preschool environment) are positioned for healthier, productive lives. Early education during these years may prevent children from getting involved in crime, and can improve their chances of finishing high school and attending college. It may be hard to think this far ahead now, but the choices you make for your child now can set the stage for achievement long-term.
Children’s Development in Preschool
As adults, we do not give much thought into the simple daily tasks of pouring a drink into a cup, setting the table, or chatting with a friend at work. For young children, these are considered sensory activities – meaning they are working on valuable life skills that they will have in the years forward. Regular preschool activities that may not seem significant to you, can have a big impact on little minds and their bodies. Here are some examples:
- Physical development – Your child continues to grow and develop physical skills, and these are encouraged at school in nearly every moment. When playing outside, children are running, jumping, and climbing. These support gross motor skills by exercising the arms, legs, and torso. Indoor play may involve play dough, kinetic sand, and coloring, which help develop fine motor skills.
- Social development – When engaged in a brick-and-mortar school setting, children are able to interact with peers. With teachers’ guidance, children learn about teamwork and therefore start to grow their social skills. This socialization is important for interpersonal skills, communication, mindfulness, collaboration, and consideration.
- Emotional development – While learning to play and work with other students, children in preschool can begin to take notice of their own feelings, as well as the feelings of others. Teachers can help children navigate and express their own feelings and actions.
- Cognitive development – This covers the thinking skills that we all need in life. In preschool, as young students explore, they are encouraged to get curious and ask questions. This helps improve their thinking skills, which lead to understanding and problem solving, and open the door for learning.
- Language and literacy development – Children in preschool are encouraged to speak up and therefore build upon their language skills. While preschoolers are often not ready to start reading and writing, there are many other activities that help pave the way for literacy, such as story time and recognizing letters of the alphabet.
Additional Benefits of Preschool
In addition to these many skills and areas of development, there are more benefits of preschool for young children that are impossible to ignore. Some of these include:
- Self-confidence. The simple act of attending school on a weekly basis is a great source of pride for most young children. The fact they are going to school is a sign of how “big” they are getting, and most children delight in knowing they are moving on up in the world. In preschool, children begin doing more things for themselves, such as “going potty” and washing hands on their own, getting dressed and undressed on their own, and so on. These tasks were done for them as babies (and usually toddlers), so the fact that they can perform these very grown-up tasks independently helps build self-confidence. Learning new skills also helps build self-confidence in preschoolers.
- Sleep. Most children are exhausted after a day of play at preschool. This usually means sleep gets a little easier. For some children (and parents!) it is the first time they are sleeping soundly throughout the night, which is a benefit to both child and parent.
- A Zest for Learning. When young children are exposed to school at the preschool level, and it is a positive experience, they feel inspired and encouraged to continue with their education. Games, songs, and story time are all so much fun! Why wouldn’t they want to keep going to school? It may seem silly to grown-ups, but playtime is the way children learn and explore interests. And if they enjoy a preschool program, they will be excited for the many years of schooling to come.
So, is preschool important for children? While every situation varies, it is clear that children can benefit from a positive, early educational environment at the preschool age. Of course, this is not to say that every preschool is the same. It is important to look for a preschool that will set your child up for success, that offers a curriculum beyond the usual childcare. Preschool is a great opportunity for children to interact with others, develop their gross motor skills, learn through play and hands-on activities, and explore their blooming interests. Cease the opportunity to engulf your child in a child-focused, encouraging environment where children can explore their curiosities and truly learn through play. Consider a Reggio Emilia preschool.
A Reggio Emilia preschool is designed for children of all learning styles, and offers a hands-on, child-centered approach to learning. Children are encouraged to explore their interests, get outside, play with new materials, use their senses, and learn about the world around them through play. In Connecticut, Riverside Magnet School offers little learners – pre-k through grade 5 – an exciting Reggio Emilia inspired curriculum that focuses on building the above-mentioned skills and more.
If you would like to learn more about the program at Riverside Magnet School, sign up for a virtual information session today!
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.