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 preschooling. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Some simple ways you can encourage these skills are as follows:
• Create a reading center in your home
• Read together
• 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.
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.
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.
Did your children attend preschool? What was their experience like?