Is preschool necessary absolutely necessary to ensure academic success?
I had wondered about this often and started to weigh the pros and cons of preschool for kids.
Although we have already decided that we’re going to homeschool Squeaker, at least through her early childhood years, sometimes I do have to wonder.
I went through daycare and preschool because it was the best option for my parents. At the time, my dad worked overnights and my mom worked at a bank.
With Squeaker, because I intend to stay at home, I’ve looked into home-preschool. We have briefly considered sending her off to preschool part time but I don’t think it’s really for us. So that’s lead me to wonder- is preschool necessary? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of preschool.
Is mandatory preschool necessary for children?
I would like to state that this post is not meant to pass judgement on parents who choose preschool. It works for some kids, I get it. This post is not meant to imply that children shouldn’t attend preschool. Some kids definitely benefit from it, most kids do!
But do children absolutely need to attend preschool to succeed in life? Are you holding them back from being a millionaire if you don’t send them off?
In short- no.
Children don’t need preschool to gain admission to kindergarten or to succeed in life. In fact, the wrong preschool experience could potentially set a child back by creating a negative perception of school, learning, and socializing.
However the right preschool experience can give a child a headstart academically and socially over peers without preschool.
In order to make the right choice for your child you need to look at what a preschool program should do for children.
What age is considered preschool?
This is a tricky area but generally speaking, a preschooler is between the ages of 3-5. They are no longer a toddler but not yet a Kindergartener. So yes, Preschool age can also include a PreKindergartener.
What age do kids start preschool?
Most preschools, public or private, won’t accept children until they meet a few criteria.
- 3 (or turning 3)
- Potty trained
- Emotional readiness
- Verbal readiness
- Some independent skills (ex. feeding)
Of course, this will also depend on the preschool offerings in your area. Some preschools are half-day programs and some are full-day programs. If it’s a full-day program in a public or private setting, ask about a nap time.
The Pros and Cons of Preschool for Children
Ideally, preschool should help integrate children socially so they learn about the rules and structures of society in general and school society in particular. In addition, preschool helps students begin a foundation of academic knowledge including literacy, numbers, and culture.
The actual content, focus, and structure of preschool programs varies widely from community to community (and often even within communities) but most programs achieve these two primary goals for students. However a parent can easily accomplish similar goals without the confines of a specific preschool program.
Obviously many families need to arrange some type of day care for the preschool age children and if this is the case then it often makes sense to combine day care and preschool.
Children who regularly attend day care programs with other children are less likely to need the social aspects of a preschool education. They likely learned how to play with others, the rules of sharing, and how to follow instructions and other key social lessons.
Similarly children who belong to a large family or live in a neighborhood where a group of children regularly interact need less social education than children who do not regularly interact with their peers.
Parents can replicate these social situations by seeking out play groups and community activities, if preschool is not an option. Or if preschool creates too much of a financial hardship.
It is also fairly easy to create a home preschool program for children.
There are many packaged curriculum available for purchase, materials available from local libraries, and information available on the internet.
That’s where I got the inspiration to do home preschool and Tot School with Squeaker. You can choose a program created entirely by someone else or create your own individual program to suit you and your child.
Some television programs even offer additional material on the internet to supplement programming that would be suitable for a homeschooling project.
Benefits of preschool vs. staying home
A motivated parent can certainly create a quality preschool program for their child that exceeds the results of any professional program. It is simply important to keep in mind your primary goals.
What do you want your child to learn? What skills do you want your child to master? Do you simply want to prepare your child for kindergarten or do you have more advanced goals in mind?
You don’t need a degree to teach your preschooler, just love, patience, guidance, and a few home based activities.
How can I really teach my preschooler at home?
Language, Mathematics, Social Development, and Science are just a few of the skills that you can encourage your children with when preschool teaching.
And believe it or not, you can get a lot of these academic skills in through playing. Creating a quiet and fun filled atmosphere is key to developing an atmosphere conducive for learning.
Some of the activities that you should include when preschool teaching include reading, listening, writing, developing number awareness, patterns, sequencing, counting, self awareness, character training, and recognizing the world around them.
Now, I realize this may seem daunting at first. But, let’s break it down.
Some simple ways you can encourage these skills are as follows:
• Create a reading center in your home
• Read together- we love Eric Carle books!
• Count objects together
• Sing together and act out phrases of the songs
• Encourage writing by making lists
• Recite rhymes together
• Teach children how to be responsible for their own belongings.
• Provide children with musical instruments
• Encourage children to tell stories with puppets
• Teach children about the importance of eating healthy foods
• Encourage frequent hand washing and discuss the importance of killing germs for health
• Instruct children in the correct way to brush their teeth
• Teach them how to blow their nose correctly
• Discuss money and play store
• Teach child how to dial 911 in case of an emergency
• Give oral directions that are increasingly complex
Take a look at my Preschool Schedule cards for an idea of what you can do.
How else can you prepare your child for preschool?
By taking the time to talk with your child, listening to your child, and encouraging your child to ask questions, you are strengthening their ability to understand and grasp the world around them. You should always make sure that you spend quality time with your child and encourage them to explore their surroundings.
Children also learn a lot just through play and everyday activities like chores. Yes, chores. Even a toddler can do chores.
The right preschool program can definitely give children a head start on long-term educational success, but not all programs are created equal and sometimes even a wonderful preschool program isn’t right for certain children.
Some children may benefit more from spending another year or two in a more nurturing atmosphere, such as home or a small day care. When making the preschool decision it is important to consider the individual child as well as the individual programs available.
It is not a one-size-fits-all decision.
Some children definitely benefit from preschool and some don’t.
Is preschool the same as PreKindergarten or PreK?
This one is always up for debate I think. But the main difference, that I’ve noticed, between preschool and PreK is that PreK is just that: pre-kindergarten. The main purpose of PreK is to prepare a child for the full day of Kindergarten. Some school districts offer UPK (or Universal PreK) in their schools to get younger children used to being at the school building and on a schedule.
Some private schools may also offer a PreK program.
Check with your local school district for options.
Is preschool necessary before Kindergarten?
I’d say that one of the biggest ways that children can benefit from preschool is if they’re going on to Pre-K or Kindergarten. Preschool can help get them used to being at school, being with other children, and get them used to being with another adult.
Whether you choose to send your child to preschool or not, the ages between 3-5 are critical for a child’s development.
Does my child have to go to preschool before Kindergarten?
Not always but definitely check with your local school district. Again, the benefits of sending your child to preschool are listed above. But, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to ensure success in Kindergarten.
Did your children attend preschool? What was their experience like?
What do these moms have to say about preschool?
We decided to send my almost 3 year old to preschool for a number of factors: My own sanity, I work from home and needed the time to get things done, and he seemed very ready for the structured and social environment (he wasn’t doing well at home unless I really planned a structured day and I couldn’t keep up with that and work) – Menucha- Moms and Crafters
We sent our two children to an accredited preschool (NAEYC) where they soaked up the fun, educational enrichment and social connections I couldn’t replicate as a WAHM. My kids were happy with preschool and were often upset to miss out if I showed up early to pick them up — a good sign that they were loving it. – Jenny – The Mommy Evolution
We chose not to send our two children to preschool. I took them on at least one outing each week and we spent a lot of time just playing. When my daughter started kindergarten at our public school, my son and I enjoyed our time together doing a very “boy preschool”. We went through the alphabet one vehicle at a time, from A is for Airplanes and Ambulance to Z is for Zeppelin and everything in between. We built memories I will treasure forever. — Christina – There’s Just One Mommy
While we sent our first 2 boys to preschool at age 3, we decided to wait a year for the 3rd kid. For one, they all have Fall birthdays and the older 2 ended up with 3 years of preschool, which we felt was unnecessary. Another reason (and there are lots!) we are waiting this time is because he is my last and I want to soak in every last minute I can with my “baby” – Shannon – Joy in the Works
I was torn and felt heartbroken at the idea of sending my daughter to school. We had had such a wonderful time together over the last 3 years. The thought of letting her go broke my heart. However I knew deep down she was at the right stage in her development to start this journey and make new friends.We already do lots at home and although I’d just had twin boys I didn’t let having two babies get in the way of our time together. I totally get how precious these days are!
We went to look at a handful of schools and I just knew when we found ‘the one’.
I cried none stop leading up to her start date. I felt like I was losing my baby.
She’s already 6 months into it and she is thriving there. She’s achieving and building some lovely friendships. I too have met some lovely people and I now feel more at ease with her going. She’s safe, happy and loving this venture.
It’s hard letting our children go, but ultimately our jobs as parents is to help encourage confident, happy children who spread their wings and enjoy their lives ❤ I just knew she was ready.-Amy (Learning and Exploring Through Play)
How to choose a preschool for your child
If you do make the decision to send your child to preschool, consider the following things:
- Private or public
- Religious or Secular
- Full or half day
- Daycare or Academic (or combination?)
Then you’ll also want to look into the type of preschool:
- Scope and Sequence
- Bank Street
Take plenty of tours ahead of time and speak with the director and your child’s potential preschool teacher. If you have friends, neighbors or family members who have gone through that preschool; ask for their experiences.
Choosing to send your child to preschool is a big decision- both for your child and for yourself. Ultimately, it’s up to you.