Today, conscientious parents start a college fund before their child is even born. Yet, they find it hard to determine when their kids should start kindergarten or preschool. Admittedly, this choice isn’t easy, as children develop mentally and physically at an individual pace. In this sense, early entry to preschool isn’t always the best option, so parents need to work out both the pros and cons of kindergarten.
Teaching the children to make a choice
One of the most annoying things in a child is their indecisiveness. This is perfectly OK, as they still don’t know enough about the world around them to be able to make definitive choices. If your kid is bored all time or he/she wanders aimlessly, then early preschool is the right choice for them.
Kindergarten classes encourage children to discover and pursue their interests, even if they seem frivolous and trivial at such a young age. The teacher will suggest to a child which toys to take or how to enter other children’s play, building their self-esteem and teaching them to always make the right (or any) choice.
Learning to take care of themselves (and others)
Just like old folks, children’s independence is measure by their ability to take care of themselves. Preschool is ideal for teaching children the initial stages of responsibility, despite their young age.
For instance, there might be an aquarium in the classroom where children learn to feed the fish regularly. This is a great way to teach them responsibility and demonstrate to their parents they deserve a house pet.
Furthermore, kindergartens have a fixed schedule for lunchtime, so children will learn to eat lunch at the same time each day. Also, they will be asked to wash their hands (for at least 20 seconds) before mealtime.
Finally, kids will learn in kindergarten that their actions affect others, so they need to be considerate. Take just the benign example of toys that are often left scattered all over the floor. Kindergarten teachers won’t tolerate this, as all children will be instructed to put toys back in their place. Since all the children do this, your child will feel a sense of community.
Although parents fear that their young child’s immune system is too weak for kindergarten group classes, they stand to gain a lot from socialization. For the first time, children learn to act as responsible members of a group, something they would never be able to do inside a family.
Social interaction skills are crucial not only for school but for adulthood as well. In preschool, kids learn to cooperate with each other, learn from one another, and even resolve conflicts with the help of the teacher.
A solid preschool program, like the one Insight Early Learning offers, always includes peer interaction as an integral part of a child’s development. If your child attends early learning classes, they will learn early on when they should listen (e.g. to peers, the teacher, parents) and when it’s OK to talk.
Improved cognitive skills
Don’t be too worried about your child’s inability to understand what you are trying to tell. Kids take a long time to fully develop their cognitive skills, such as memory, abstract concepts, the relation between cause and consequences, etc.
That’s why children are full of questions that may seem odd to adults. You often don’t have enough time to explain every single concept to them, so you can rely on kindergarten teachers to do so.
Since there are so many toys and play equipment in a kindergarten, teachers will be able to demonstrate the most basic laws of physics to children.
Researchers and language teachers agree that children should start learning a new language before the age of 10. However, there is no consensus on the minimum age for learning a new language, so many kindergartens have language classes.
When it comes to their mother tongue, children increase their vocabulary by some 300% from the ages of 3 to 5. Early childhood is the period of intensive growth, both mentally and physically. In order not to miss out on the child’s capabilities, the kindergarten should have some form of language acquisition.
These needn’t be formal classes like in an elementary school but merely random vocabulary lessons. For example, when learning about animals, their English name should be written below on the show-and-tell card. Passive language exposure (sometimes called immersion learning) is yet another benefit of kindergarten.
Before learning to write and count
You can’t expect the average 3-year old to know to read, write, or count to 10. However, this is the age when they can play games that will help them develop a predisposition for mathematics and language acquisition.
Unlike school, you won’t have to force kids to solve mathematical problems, as carefully devised games will tap into the child’s natural curiosity. Everything from reading instructions to assemble a toy to calculating the price of a bagel helps them get a better understanding of the world around them.
Such and similar pre-math and pre-literacy skills prepare children for school in a way parents never could. Don’t be surprised if your child comes back from preschool with a song they learned in class or the ability to spell your name.
Developing motor skills
One of the biggest allures of preschool, apart from socializing and the development of cognitive skills, is the opportunity for kids to move freely about. If you live inside an apartment, then your children’s movement is somewhat restricted. They can run around and truly explore the world around them only when you take them to a park.
When the weather is fine, children spend time outside in the kindergarten, developing their motor skills in the process. The little ones are happy to jump, play hide-and-seek, run, hurdle, run, skip, and climb all day long.
At first glance, a children’s playground might seem hectic but that’s how they build hand-eye coordination and learn balance. During the calmer part of the day, they develop fine motor skills while cutting paper with scissors or threading beads.
There is no universal answer when your child should be enrolled in preschool. You need to follow his/her development carefully to determine when they will benefit from attending educational kindergarten classes.
About the Author
Neil White is an automotive&travel journalist from Sydney. Neil was into cars since he can remember, and road trips are his greatest childhood memory. Combining journalism and traveling is something that he was dreaming about, so now he is considering himself a really happy person.