“It’s Just Preschool”

February 18, 2013

It’s just preschool…”say lots of people all the time.

Well, it is NOT just preschool!  Over the years, I have heard this phrase from friends, parents and educational professionals.  I heard it again this week from a preschool teacher.

I firmly believe our educational system is broken and backwards.  Why do we try to fix children from the top down?  Why do we wait until we have lost a child to crime, dropout rates or teenage pregnancy? What would happen if we have children a strong preschool education?  Would crime rates among teens and young adults decline?  Would children be more inclined to stay in school because they have a solid foundation and understanding of the concepts being taught in the classroom?  Would they stay in school so they could make a better life for themselves?  If we provided a solid preschool education to children we would see these statistics change drastically.

Here are the facts about the benefits of a HIGH QUALITY PRESCHOOL education:

  • 80% of a child’s brain is developed by the time they are five years old.  Some research suggests the number is as high as 90%!
  • Children who attend a high quality preschool enter Kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabulary and stronger basic math skills.
  • Multiple studies have shown the lasting outcomes of preschool include higher academic achievement, higher employment rates, lower rates of welfare use and lower criminal activity from children who attended a quality preschool.

High quality preschool education is programming led by professionals who are formally educated, trained, responsive and nurturing to young children.  The classrooms have a small student to teacher ratio.  The curriculum is developmentally appropriate and stimulates the children’s cognitive, physical and emotional development.

Preschool, most importantly, teaches children about interacting with others.  Children in a high quality preschool learn to wait for their turn, participate in turn taking games and activities, are expected to follow general classroom rules and routines to foster independence, and are taught how to listen and learn the social skills necessary to interact with others in a positive manner.  These are life long skills that are essential and should not be taken lightly.

Preschool should also provide a solid foundation of academic learning where children are exposed to literature, music, math, science, world culture, fine motor and gross motor experiences; classrooms should be full of rich language experiences, too.  These skills may not be obvious to everyone because it should not be a “drill and practice curriculum.”  If you look carefully at what children are doing in the classroom you will discover they are engaged in structured play and hands on learning.  You will discover a child learning about:

  • fractions in the sand box
  • gravity at the water table
  • the water cycle in a container garden
  • patterns at snack time
  • story structure as they reenact “Going on a Bear Hunt”
  • good pencil grip with a LightBright

I know this sounds like an abundance of play time, but children learn through play.  These are deliberate activities planned by the teacher to create a well-rounded learner who is prepared for the challenges of school, and possesses the skills necessary to be a contributing member of society.

So if you are looking for a place where your child will be an engaged thinker while developing their social skills…..it is preschool!