As parents with preschool age children decide whether to send their children to a public or private school or to teach them at home, it is worth considering what children can gain during the years before kindergarten.
Overall, children who attend preschool are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don’t, according to a data analysis by early childhood education researchers. Preschool provides a foundation that prepares children to succeed. It helps them develop social skills, fine motor skills, and cognitive abilities, all of which are vital to success in kindergarten and beyond.
One of the benefits of preschool is socialization. Some kids may get a lot of exposure to pre-math and pre-writing skills at home but are lacking in social skills.
Kids acquire these skills naturally when they are put in situations with different authority figures than their parents and learn to interact appropriately with peers. In a preschool setting, kids learn to function in a group and must take turns sharing, learn to wait patiently, respect other’s personal space and property, and learn how to solve conflicts with other children.
Children who attend preschool are also exposed to routines, structure, and classroom expectations. According to the teacher’s expectations, they may learn to sit on a carpet for circle time, line up when the bell rings, and raise hands to speak.
After a year or two of preschool, children become used to a classroom, which could mean they have fewer problems adjusting to kindergarten than those who didn’t attend preschool.
Fine motor skills
Young children develop their fine motor skills in preschool. They develop the ability to control small muscles in the body by, for example, writing a name, cutting paper, and fastening a button.
To learn these skills, children must develop finger muscles and improve hand-eye coordination and finger strength. They can develop these by drawing, cutting paper, pasting a craft, building a tower of blocks, and doing other common preschool activities.
These skills are vital for kindergarten, where children move beyond drawing and tracing and start to write letters.
Additionally, research has shown a positive correlation between motor proficiency, cognitive development, and academic achievement, according to a study in the Human Movement Science journal.
Cognitive development is the growth of a child’s ability to think and reason. Preschool can encourage children as they begin to follow more detailed instructions and acquire a more complete understanding of time, counting, the alphabet and storytelling.
Additionally, children who attend center-based preschools, like Head Start, tend to have improved vocabularies compared to children in home-based preschools, according to research published in the Annals of Applied Statistics journal.
A major difference between the current generation of preschoolers and their parents is that kids must be prepared to attend school during a pandemic. Although they may be used to some precautions, parents can help their preschoolers prepare to wear a mask at school with these techniques, as recommended by Zero to Three:
- Explain the need for a mask.
- Be a role model by wearing a mask.
- Introduce the mask during playtime.
- Frame the mask as a ”big kid thing.”
- Offer choices of masks.
- Remind the child about mask wearing before leaving.
- Review rules before arriving.
- Prepare for mask fails.
With the right safety precautions, even during a pandemic, children can thrive at preschool.