As the proud mother of four young girls I think it’s safe to say that I have been around the old preschool block a time or two. My oldest girls (now ages ten and seven) went to daycare centers as babies so the transition to preschool was kind of a no brainer. I had to work, they were there anyways, mine as well do the preschool thing. The twins on the other hand have been a different story. They are my teeny-tiny-stay-at-home-absolutely-positively last babies EVER. When they turned three years old this past year I found myself second guessing the decision to send them off into the big, bad world. Would they be ready for preschool? Would I be ready for preschool? Why not just keep them home for one (or two) more years with their best and most favorite teacher (yours truly.) Well, here is why…
Take Advantage of Early intervention Services
If you suspect your little guy might need a bit of extra assistance in his academic journey then you most definitely want to get him into a preschool program. Whether it’s fine motor skills, speech and language needs or a bit of occupational therapy, preschool can give your tot a head start in areas of deficit and help catch him up to speed before he even sets foot in the elementary setting. Under IDEA, or the Individuals With Disabilities Act, once a child turns three they are guaranteed special education services by the state agency. A lot of parents have no clue that this service is even available to them and often wait until kindergarten to bring concerns up with educators.
It Really Will Prepare Them For Elementary School
If your child never attends any sort of school setting before entering kindergarten he may be in for a very rude awakening. When five year olds come into elementary school, so much is expected of them. It is bound to be overwhelming even for the most prepared students. Where as traditional kindergarten used to be a half day program, it is now full time in most places. Children are expected to sit, listen, wait their turn, respond to all sorts of different situations, both positive and negative and show growth in the areas of academics, social awareness and emotional maturity. That is one heck of a tall order for a little guy. Preschool does a lot of this heavy lifting for them though, and really the kids don’t even realize it!
It Promotes Emotional and Social Growth
A lot of the early educational years are spent focusing on child to child interactions. By nature young children are ego-centric and it can be difficult for them to learn to share, work out their problems with their words and voice their needs and concerns to adults that are not mom or dad. Preschool programs allow children as young as two and a half to fine tune their social and emotional growth so that when they enter kindergarten it is one less thing that they may struggle with. After sending my three year old twins to school for one week I noticed that they were more intune to each other’s emotional needs. They started to show empathy and apologize for their actions more often than before. At the same time their social development skyrocketed and they began to interact with kids on the playground and seek out friendships more fluidly. It was amazing!
Preschool Provides Academic Instruction That They Will Need In The Future
Let’s face it, Kindergarten has drastically changed over the last twenty years. What we adults remember as being a whole lot of coloring, playtime and learning our letter people is now an eight hour day of academically rigorous lessons. Kindergartners are tested like never before and in a lot of ways expected to know far more than we did when we entered primary school. Preschool programs now a days emphasize many aspects of academics as well as social and emotional growth.
It Gives Your Child a Balance of Choice and Structure
A well rounded child has a healthy dose of both choice and structure available to them. Preschool does a phenomenal job of providing your child plenty of choices while giving them the structure that they need to feel safe and secure in their environment. Kids need to have some sense of control over their worlds and allowing them to choose the colors of paint to use in a project or allowing them to select a free choice activity at school is a great way to do that. In balance with the choices comes a heavy dose of structure. Preschooler learn that there are rules and hard lines in the sand when they attend learning-based programs. Three year olds learn to hang up their backpacks, clean up their messes and sit on rugs while teachers read to them. They line up for recess, wait their turn to swing and take turns using the bathroom, all at the age of three!
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