Updated: May 11
Preschool is one of the earliest opportunities children get to leave the familiar but limiting home environment. For many, it serves as their introduction to society and opens their eyes, minds, and hearts to the wider world.
Up until this point, the world has been revolving around them as parents attentively cater to their needs and desires. In preschool, they become aware of others and learn to valuable life skills that will shape them to become a functioning member of society.
During these formative preschool years, children will learn:
Prosocial skills – through constant interaction with their peers and their teacher’s guidance on how to deal with situations or respond to social situations appropriately. The children learn to use their words to express emotions or show empathy; they learn to share – whether they are sharing school supplies, toys, or the attention of their teacher. They also learn to take turns, wait in line or wait for their turn to speak (which will also aid in developing their active listening skills.) Other important prosocial skills they will learn include following directions, delayed gratification, persistence, paying attention, self-esteem, and much more useful skills that fall under the category of self-regulation and executive function.
Cognitive skills – daily activities designed to propel their academic achievements in subjects such as language arts, reading, writing, and math. This is the area where attending preschool will have the most impact. Various studies (including the research done for the Head Start program) show that children who attend preschool will outperform children who didn’t attend preschool in the first few years of school. To me, the importance of this fact lies in its lasting effect on how children are likely to view/feel about school in general. If a child does well in school from an early age, gets praises for doing well, their school experience will be positive, a pleasure even. School will not be a tiresome chore, but a place of discovery, adventure, and a place where they go to meet their friends. And that is a huge advantage every parent should consider.
Physical abilities – preschool provides the perfect environment for a child’s physical development. Not only do they have the space, equipment, and training to properly engage a child in age-appropriate physical activities, the fact that children are surrounded by their peers encourages them to participate in an activity they normally would be hesitant to try. From running around to jumping, skipping, and dancing, preschools provide physical activities that will develop a child’s agility, confidence, and self-esteem.
It is beneficial to the child to attend a good preschool – and the key word here is “good.” Though the most measurable development you’ll see in your child is the academic achievements, I believe preschool are even more valuable for the opportunities of social interactions they provide. Preschools may be the natural choice for working mothers, but I believe even homeschoolers should consider letting their children attend preschool – even if only as a part-time option. The benefits of attending preschool far outweigh the drawbacks..