An Important Parental Decision
For many people over the age of 50, there was no such thing as going to preschool. You stayed at home until it was time to register for kindergarten. Going to school for two-and-a-half hours was the first time any of these children were away from Mommy.
Nowadays, with so many wonderful educational materials available to parents who wish to use them, there are those who have chosen not to send their children to private preschool.
Is this a wise choice?
The Benefits of Attending Preschool
There are a world of benefits for children who go to preschool. First, children learn all kinds of social skills when they are in a school setting. Children have to take turns with toys and art materials, unlike home where each child might have her own things and sharing is not necessary.
Waiting is also an integral part of social skills. When the teacher can only have three students at the art center, the a child must learn patience until her name is called to do the project. How many children have to wait more than two minutes at home for the things they want?
One of the best examples of learning to wait and listen is circle time. This term means that the children sit in a circle on the floor while the teacher reads a story, sings songs, does movement activities, has children do jobs, and plays games with her students. It is a time for children to learn how to follow directions. This typically is the first activity of the day and sets the children up for what will happen throughout the morning. It is a skill to learn to sit and listen and raise your hand that will be used for a child‘s entire academic life.
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At home, parents may not assign chores, but in preschool, every child has a job and all children are expected to clean up their own snack and toys. For parents of young children, it is so much easier to just do the job themselves then nag at their kids or redo an imperfect chore. At preschool, teachers cannot clean up after ten or twelve children and be expected to teach. Learning responsibility and cooperation is one of benefits of attending preschool.
Preschools also offer a lot of opportunity for creative play. If you have chosen a preschool wisely, the head teachers are also certified in the field of education and are not just a mom working there for a discount. Lesson plans are required by the school’s director and a parent can see them at any time.
It may not look like a child is learning when they are playing games, but indeed, they are. Activities are not done for the sake of something to do; there is a learning concept behind everything. That is the secret to making learning into play and play into learning. Kids do not know that they are working on pre-math skills by sorting bears into the same matching containers, nor they realize that they are dong pre-reading skills by bringing in a “doll” when it is letter “D” week.
For example, how many parents just let their children play with scissors? In many preschool classrooms, children are encouraged to sit and cut and make a mess. Learning to use a scissor properly is a fine motor skill that is only learned with practice.
Lots of messy learning fun happens in preschool that many parents will not permit at home. Rolling out Play Doh, painting with finger paints (or anything other kind of paint) using glitter are all wonderful and creative activities that take place in preschool. When is the last time a child played with glitter in your home?
It is also important for children to learn to separate from their mothers and be comfortable and act appropriately in the company and care of other loving adults. They can develop close and nurturing relationships with the teachers they are in contact with in school.
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Are There Reasons Not to Send Your Child to Preschool?
A parent is a child’s first teacher, and oftentimes, a child’s best teacher. But can a parent do it all?
For some, they can. There are mothers who are educated enough to do everything a preschool teacher can on her own. She makes sure her children are involved in a variety of activities with other children and covers all of the pre-kindergarten basics.
However, if most mothers were to be honest, it is nice to have a break from their kids. Raising young children is a very demanding job. Preschool is a break that benefits both parent and child, as everyone is happy when the 2.5 hours is over. It does not make one a bad parent to have time to herself, it makes her an honest one.
In the past, families lived with each other or at least lived nearby, and they were able to help if needed. This is not the situation anymore. Many women I know, myself included, loved having the mornings to ourselves to run errands without children in tow, or to, heaven forbid, grab a cup of coffee with another adult and not be distracted fifteen times in five minutes while trying to hold a conversation.
There are mothers who plan on home schooling their children, so they do not feel the need to send their children to preschool. That fits with their viewpoint of the schooling experience.
And there are also parents who think that interaction with other children in a large group setting too soon will ruin their children, as they will learn or be exposed to behaviors they do not want them to have. By keeping them home and being selective with whom they interact, they can keep their child protected.
Affordability is another factor in whether or not to send your child to preschool. As a parent who has paid for it three times, it comes at a large cost.
And not everyone can afford it.
If price is a factor, parents can look into less expensive cooperative preschools where they are also the teachers. It is a compromise that works for many families.
Sending your child to preschool is a personal decision and one that every parent needs to make.