Many parents think of preschool as being more or less synonymous with daycare. That is, an institution to babysit the kids so mommy and daddy can go to work. However, there are deeper benefits to choosing a good quality preschool program. These can be both immediate and long-lasting.
It is in preschool where children start learning early critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Curious young minds are encouraged to experiment and explore in a safe and controlled environment custom-tailored for their age group and stage of development.
The far-reaching benefits of attending preschool
A number of well-documented clinical studies have found numerous benefits to attending preschool. Some of the benefits last throughout a person’s lifetime. A few don’t even become obvious until adulthood.
Children who attend a high-quality preschool program are more likely to go on to graduate high school than those who don’t.
Kids who go to preschool are also far more likely to hold better jobs and enjoy higher income in adulthood than their peers who did not attend a preschool program. One widely-cited study put the figure at $2,000 per month more. (That figure is adjusted for inflation, as the study took place over the course of 40 years.)
This effect was further attributed to a much higher likelihood of seemingly unrelated quality-of-life indicators such as owning a home and having a more stable marriage.
Multiple studies have even found that kids who attend a high-quality preschool program are less likely to commit crimes or run into trouble with the law.
Preschool benefits for immigrant children
Children growing up in households where the primary language spoken is something other than English (referred to in clinical and professional education circles as “dual language learners”) get especially strong benefits from attending preschool.
Although their language development in both of their primary languages typically progresses more slowly, they soon speed past their peers in several academic areas including English-language proficiency. The benefits go both ways; having emerging bilingual students in preschool classrooms gives early foreign language exposure to the other students as well.
The benefits of a rich diversity of experiences
Children develop at different rates, and this is most evident during the preschool years. Some toddlers can speak in full sentences while others still mix real words and gibberish. Different kids of the same age may be at all different stages of potty training. The same goes for other self care like getting dressed or making messes while eating.
It is this very diversity that deeply enriches a child’s development.
Experienced preschool teachers understand the power of getting kids to help each other and the group as a whole. Whether that’s setting out napkins and cups for snack time, or helping a younger child zip up his jacket.
They often will ask children to halp with age-appropriate tasks or stay back and allow children to learn how to settle their own disputes. So long as no child is in danger, this is invaluable experience that kids will use throughout their lives.
The structure of a well-designed preschool program
Preschool is not as structured as later grades. Or at least it may seem that way at first glance.
In these early years, there is a great deal of learning that takes place during play time. Good programs make a rich variety of toys, games, props, art supplies, and other items available to the children. Well-trained teachers excel at loosely guiding activities while letting the kids explore and discover some things on their own.
Above all, everything is structured around the latest evidence for what is most effective at developing young minds and bodies.
This may include recognizing and writing letters and numbers, counting, identifying colors, and so on. It also includes soft skills such as cooperation, negotiation, manners, and patience. All of this with plenty of room for kids to be active as a way of burning off excess energy while practicing coordination and fine motor skills.
Throughout the preschool day, kids are encouraged to make observations, ask questions, think critically, and solve problems.
With so many benefits, the importance of preschool on your child’s development can hardly be overstated.
The quality of programs varies. To check out one of the nation’s best, come visit us at Handprints Academy. Be prepared to come away impressed.