In the fall, my youngest daughter will start preschool.Even though the thought of dropping her off and leaving her with strangers for the first time in her life causes me angst, I plan to fight through it.
But I'd be lying if I said I haven't considered if she even needs to go. I mean, is preschool itself really necessary? We've told you about research that suggests preschool can close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers.
1. School Readiness
The Office of Head Start defines school readiness as children possessing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life. A high-quality early education program will offer kids both play time and the skills they need to be ready for kindergarten. Steve Barnett is director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. He told The Huffington Post:
A number of large-scale studies demonstrate that participation in high-quality, center-based pre-K programs positively influences all children’s kindergarten readiness. Positive impacts include gains in achievement test scores, including early literacy and math skills, as well as improvements in social and emotional development.
2. Social and emotional development
Kids learn social skills and how to process emotions from the world around them. According to the non-profit organization GreatSchools:
High-quality preschool programs nurture warm relationships among children, teachers and parents. And teachers build a close personal connection with each child in their care. Three- and 4-year-olds learn through their experiences and good teachers make time for those “teachable moments” when they can help children learn to manage frustrations or anger. They don’t automatically step in to resolve children’s conflicts for them; they have a well-honed sense of when to let children work out their own problems and when to intervene. Without shaming a child, they encourage her to notice the impact of her aggressive or hurtful behavior on another child.
3. Confidence and self-esteem
This is critical. A strong sense of wellbeing provides children with confidence, optimism and self-esteem which will encourage children to explore their talents, skills and interests. Positive interactions with other children and teachers will promote a positive, healthy and secure view of themselves that will allow them to approach situations and problems confidently throughout their lives.
4. Boosted pre-math and literacy skills
A report released last week by Mission Readiness/Ready Nation suggests the foundation for interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is laid as early as preschool and kindergarten, and that making early education programs more accessible will increase the future supply of people available to work in these fields. According to GreatSchools:
Young children show growing interest in pre-math and pre-literacy skills. To prepare children for the academic demands of kindergarten, teachers offer a wide variety of games and activities that help children acquire the pre- math and literacy skills…To sustain children’s excitement and motivation for learning, high-quality preschool and child care programs introduce early literacy and math skills not as isolated exercises, but in the context of activities that are interesting and meaningful to children.
5. Check-ins of developmental milestones
Early and regular check-ins and assessments can help families track and celebrate their child’s developmental milestones, and ensure that their children get early and specialized support, if needed.
Will your kid be sentenced to a life of playing catch up if they don't go to preschool? Maybe not, but I think the benefits are enough reason to consider it.