The passage of time is something that most parents wish they could freeze. Before you know it, your peaceful, sleeping infant in the car seat starts to develop their own, unique, and independent personality.
It’s generally not until after age 2 that children begin to gain independence and show interest in exploring the world around them– two key markers that your child could be ready to start preschool. (Here are other markers to help determine if the time is right to start your child in a preschool program).
By the time your little one walks out of the house for that milestone first day of preschool, their brains are already functioning as sponges, soaking in stimuli and the world around them. In fact, between birth and three years of age, the human brain increases to 80 percent of its adult size. Enrolling your child in a preschool program boosts learning and development during this important window of time.
Young children are exposed to new experiences and opportunities in preschool. Here is what your child can expect to learn after you drop them off (hopefully without tears!) at their new preschool.
In preschool, young children will focus on phonological awareness where they listen to and focus on words, rhymes, and syllables they hear throughout the day to help prepare them for letter recognition and reading. This includes working with children on figuring out what both upper and lower case letters look like, rhyming or singing. Through storytelling, children will begin to identify characters and story settings all while building their comprehension skills.
Children in preschool can also expect to trace letters on paper while, at the same time, developing their fine motor skills by practicing small hand and wrist movements. Some of these movements include activities such as tearing paper or writing with a pencil or playing with clay, playdough, or slime. In PreK, using markers and especially rock crayons are great practice for preschoolers – the thicker the writing instrument, the better.
Acquiring Math Skills
Preschoolers can also expect to begin to work on bolstering their math skills. In preschool, teachers work with children on how to recognize shapes and patterns, to count verbally, to recognize numbers, and to understand one-to-one correspondence (matching sets, or more or less sets –such as knowing which group has four and which has five).
Getting Comfortable with Technology
By the time children arrive at preschool, many of them may already be comfortable navigating computers, iPad, and touch screens. During the pandemic, some children may have even watched parents or older siblings navigate technology as the world turned virtual to help battle COVID-19. In preschool, children start to operate a variety of apps some of which might include Khan Academy, TinyTap, and learning resources like Seesaw on iPads.
Introducing Specialty Classes
Aside from the basics of reading and math, preschoolers also dabble in other subjects. Oak Knoll’s Little Acorns PreK Program, for example, is enriched by different specialty classes woven into their daily program including science, culture studies, world languages, physical education, and library.
Nurturing Social & Emotional Skills
Preschools are also prime environments for teachers to work with young children on how to identify their feelings. Preschoolers learn how to navigate their feelings in a controlled environment and begin to problem solve through play and interacting with their peers. There are several ways that preschool teachers may bolster social & emotional skills. Some include reading books, planning activities, giving praise, and modeling appropriate behaviors. Showing warmth and affection to young children – even on bad days where children are misbehaving – is also critically important in a preschool setting.
Furthermore, having healthy social-emotional skills is linked to healthy mental health and interpersonal relationships, and overall positive adult outcomes later in life.
Sending your young child to a preschool program can be emotional for parents (sometimes we cry more at drop off than our child!), but rest assured that preschool opens many exciting new and important doors for your child and prepares them for a successful life ahead of them.