Preschool is not mandatory, so parents may choose to send children to “Pre-K”, or to wait until Kindergarten to begin their education. It may not seem like a big deal to skip preschool, after all, it’s mostly playtime and snacks, right? Well, on the surface, perhaps. However when you dig deeper, it’s way more than that. Here are some of the major benefits of preschool as preparation for Kindergarten and beyond:
Learning to Attend
Children enter a preschool environment willy nilly and full of wiggles. But they soon learn that they need to sit and listen to the teacher, or they will miss out on great things. They learn to raise hands and to follow a schedule. By the time they head off to Kindergarten they are seasoned in the art of listening to a teacher who is not their parent, skill sets they will need for the next 13 years or so!
Fine Motor Skills
Scribbling, play dough, finger painting, stickers, cut-and-paste may seem like pointless busywork, but the purpose of this work is to develop the muscles that will later hold a pencil, and eye-hand coordination that help to print letters and numbers. Fine motor activities make fingers and wrists strong for school work.
Preschoolers begin to learn to “read” whenever they are read to by adults. Teachers may have different accents than parents. Story time increases learning comprehension and literacy later in life. Even just looking through picture books and recognizing letters and their sounds is a big step towards reading and writing later on.
Washing hands, cleaning up, putting on socks or jackets, making friends, playing games and navigating school buildings and classrooms; these are all life skills that come in very handy in Kindergarten!
Crying at school is certainly OK, everyone does at some time. But children who have already spent a year in preschool will know that parents always come to pick them up and teachers are nice and helpful. They can go to Kindergarten without fear.
We all need to learn to get along with others. By the time kids get to Kindergarten, they are expected to be able to sit at desks with peers, and to be hospitable and mostly civilized. Preschool is the time where kids learn things like sharing, taking turns, and cooperation. Going to Kindergarten without establishing these skills greatly diminish the opportunities for absorbing their lessons for those children who are still learning to share space with other kids.
Studies prove that children who attend preschool programs read at their grade level at a higher rate than peers who did not attend preschool at all. The academic success benefits of preschool will reach far beyond Kindergarten and into the upper grades. Preschool educated children do better on standardized tests and in classroom performance. Children who come from bilingual or multilingual preschools do even better!
Some school districts offer half-day Pre-K programs, which are certainly better than attending no Pre-K, but can’t provide children with the same benefits of a full-day Pre-K program. The great news is that it mostly doesn’t matter which philosophy of full-day preschool kids attend (e.g. Montessori, Reggio, etc.) before Kindergarten, just that the center offers children a quality education program, and that a child consistently attends. So whether it’s a Spanish immersion, art based, outdoor play centered or other focused curriculum, just going to Pre-K for at least one year before Kindergarten greatly improves a child’s future academic success, and a lifetime of rewards from their improved literacy, knowledge and educational achievement!
During our 33 years of providing quality child care and preschool for the neighborhoods we serve, Prime Time Early Learning Centers has educated children with our own carefully researched and instructed Prime Connections proprietary early learning program. Prime Time Centers in Middletown and Farmingdale NY, and in Paramus, Edgewater, East Rutherford and Hoboken NJ each have on-site Education Directors who teach, audit and support our Prime Connections education program with our classroom teachers. Prime Time also employs specialized learning consultants who help to update our Pre-K, preschool and after-school curriculums to include the latest early learning research.