Preschool-aged children learn at a fascinating rate. They're constantly gaining insights about the world from every interaction. This is just one of the many reasons the pre-kindergarten year in school is so foundational. Besides opening kids up to a wide variety of learning opportunities from trained professional preschool educators, preschoolers also get the opportunity to learn about themselves and others in social settings that otherwise wouldn't be possible if they were at home.
With this in mind, let's explore seven key elements young children learn when they attend preschool.
1. Self-Regulation Skills
Before elementary school is when most children begin to learn social and emotional development by watching others, being guided by adults, and understanding what's right and what's wrong.
Social and emotional development are two vital growth opportunities that preschool teachers are skilled at teaching young children. In a good preschool, children learn how to compromise, be respectful, and problem solve. At the same time, they're given opportunities to explore, play with others, and build self-confidence without their parents guiding their way. This is a time when children really start to figure out who they are in the world.
2. Language Skills
Preschools are naturally "language-rich" environments where teachers inherently work to build children's vocabularies throughout the day. Pre-kindergarten teachers masterfully know how to integrate new words into craft time, snack time, and other regular activities without the kids ever knowing they're learning.
3. Cognitive Skills
Not only are preschool teachers skillful at sliding new words into kids' vocabularies, but they're also able to ask thought-provoking questions that make little ones reconsider the world around them. Through singing, talking about books, and creative play time, teachers can build the cognitive skills
children will need as they grow and develop into their own selves.
Sure, preschool is about having fun and socializing with peers, but there's a lot of learning that happens in the course of a normal day. It's never too early for children to start learning pre-math and pre-literacy skills. For example, when teachers read stories to preschoolers, children gain listening and comprehension skills. When children sing the alphabet song, they're naturally learning the letters of the alphabet, but they're also learning how to follow along in picture books and understand distinct sounds.
While preschoolers certainly aren't learning arithmetic or reading novels, the academics they're being exposed to are age-appropriate and designed to invite excitement around the idea of learning.
5. Creativity and Curiosity
In an effective pre-kindergarten classroom, teachers engage with students' natural curiosity about the world. Teachers are skilled at using open-ended questions that open channels of dialogue and help teachers gain insight into their students' minds. It's all about focusing on the process, not the outcome.
Teachers might ask questions like:
"How did you figure that out?"
"What will happen if you...?"
"What made you want to draw/paint/explore that?"
"Why did you use those colors?"
"How did you know that would happen?"
It's all about enabling exploration. Preschoolers are naturally creative and curious. When they're encouraged to go forth with these natural inclinations, they're more likely to prosper in academic and social settings.
6. Free Play
Good preschools can balance the ideas of free play and guided play in ways that both encourage individualism and skills-building at the same time. Free play is great because young children learn to share and interact with others when materials are simply set out and they're given free rein. However, that doesn't necessarily facilitate learning and growth in other ways. As such, skilled teachers can seamlessly integrate guidance into "free play" in ways that gently push children into thinking about the experiments or creations they're partaking in.
7. Preparation for Elementary School
Perhaps above all, each of the aforementioned elements of preschool comes together to form one main goal: to prepare the child for elementary school (and beyond). Preschool teaches kids how to be patient, wait their turn, and generally how to be good students. They learn how to follow routines and listen to directions as a normal part of their days. It also helps children separate from their parents so the first day of kindergarten goes as smoothly as possible.
At All Saints' Episcopal Day School, we're proud to have a pre-kindergarten program
that facilitates learning, socialization, and overall happiness. If you'd like to explore the possibilities our school holds for your child, please reach out to us