The pressure to send your child to preschool starts almost as soon as they turn two. Other parents and well meaning family members will begin asking you which preschool is in your child’s future with the certainty that you have already decided to send them. For parents, this can be a difficult decision to make. Should children go to preschool? Largely, professionals, educators and child sociologists say yes.
If you are a stay at home parent, the question looms even larger. After all, you decided to stay home to raise your children and sending them off into the world at such a young age almost goes against your initial intention. No matter what, when considering preschool for your child you should keep several things in mind. While the vast majority of children may benefit from a preschool environment, there are some that clearly aren’t ready. Also, consider the type of preschool that you are planning to send your child to. Many are nothing more than an extended play date with teachers whose qualifications are little more than giving birth to one of the kids in the class, while others offer a real curriculum and certified teaching professionals. The third thing to consider is your family budget. Preschool often doubles for day care and neither of these are inexpensive endeavors.
Is your child ready? If they seem to love interacting and are easily stimulated into learning than they will no doubt thrive in preschool. On the flip side, if your child is withdrawn and extremely shy or clingy than preschool may help to slowly transform them. This can help you to deal with issues like separation anxiety or the lack of knowing how to play with other kids. Normally, a child who is entering preschool for the first time will show some apprehension or fear and within just a few weeks, this should subside. If you child seems overly anxious, or even after months of preschool have not adjusted, you may do better to keep them at home a bit longer. Should children go to preschool if they are panic stricken for months on end…no, this only causes stress for you, your child and the classroom they are being placed in. Realize that this is just a phase and they will grow out of this. It is rare to see a first or second grader clinging to mom and dads clothes as they drop them off at school.
Children learn many early social skills and manners as well as grace are reinforced in a preschool environment. It is often the first environment where they realize that they are not the center of the universe and it is easier for strangers to teach this, than it is for parents. They will begin to learn sharing, taking turns, following directions and will gain a sense of pride in their independence. If your preschool has a curriculum, you will find that they will quickly and easily learn things like their letters, numbers and other cognizant learning skills. While they will also learn this at home, often the preschool environment is more organized and clearly stipulates learning guidelines that are age appropriate.
Should children go to preschool that is church affiliated? Most urban areas have a plethora of half day, two or three day a week preschool programs that are run out of local churches. These are often the most cost effective for parents and may be conveniently located in your neighborhood. These programs rarely if ever require that you attend their church or are denominational in curriculum. While some may lean more towards faith-based education, more do not and use standard preschool curriculums to teach children. Parents shouldn’t discount these programs too quickly and should realize that often sending them locally allows them to build a friend network of children that they will attend regular school with in just a short while. This can make the transition to elementary school even easier. There are also specialized schools like Montessori or private academies that offer preschool programs that may more closely match what you want for your child.
When you are deciding whether your child should go or not, keep in mind that you have the right and authority to interview and ask all sorts of questions about the teachers, assistants and discipline policies. The school should have an open door policy that allows you to visit at any time and should not have any complaints against them. This can be checked out easily on the web. As you get a feel for the teachers and administrators of the school, don’t be afraid to drill them as though they are applying for job. Essentially, they are and an important one at that. You have to feel good about the people caring for your child.
Many parents wonder not only should children go to preschool, but also will they be behind if they don’t go? This pressure and fear is often what prompts parents to send their children to school so young. Statistics available at the US Census Bureau show that just under half of all 3 and 4-year-old children in the United States attend preschool. The Federal Board of Education also surmises that these children have the aptitude to change the kindergarten curriculum but admit until the percentage of preschool children rises closer to 90% and all children are afforded preschool opportunity through funding, they are unable to do this.
This essentially translates into the fact that when they get to kindergarten they will all learn the same curriculum regardless of whether or not they went to preschool. While the kids who attended preschool will likely be light years ahead of those who didn’t, brain function at the age of 5 is more developed and enables them to pick up on cognizant and memory skills more quickly. The bottom line is that your preschool graduate may find kindergarten slightly redundant but they will be socially developed and will have a greater chance of success in early education, which gives them an incredible sense of self-confidence.
Should children go to preschool? Conclusively, they should! There is no harm that comes from exposing them to an educational environment and supporting their educational needs is the parent’s responsibility. Their natural curiosity and willingness to learn of often not supported well at home. Giving them an opportunity to make friends and have a world of their own (watched carefully by you of course) is a great way to help them become independent thinkers who are full of self-esteem. If your child doesn’t seem ready, you can give it a little more time and try again later. While preschool is best, not sending them is definitely not the end of the world.