Recent reports have emerged that preschool may not be as important to academic achievement as once was thought. These same studies report that the children who benefit from preschool the most are those from affluent families; these being the families that can afford the top, private preschools. Does this mean that generations of children went to school sooner than necessary? Though the answer to that question depends largely on which side of the fence you stand, don’t write off preschool just yet. There is also research that shows life long benefits of attending preschool. Here is a closer look at the pros and cons of preschool.
What Are The Main Pros And Cons of Preschool?
Preschool is also sometimes called nursery school, pre-primary school, or play school. It is early childhood education for children before they begin compulsory kindergarten. There are both private and public preschools. It depends on the area where you live whether or not a traditional preschool is available as a public option and sometimes it is only available as a public option to those meeting certain conditions. Preschool age is typically considered to be from 2 ½ to 4 ½ years old.
I went to a private Montessori preschool myself and I loved it. I still cherish the freedom and exploration of my time there. They encouraged so much creativity with awesome, fun, artistic projects. To me, there was no question that it was enjoyable. However, not all the preschools are the same so let’s take a closer look at the main pros and cons of preschool.
Is Preschool Beneficial? A Look At The Pros Of Preschool
1. Preschool Socialization Benefits
According to Gail Saltz, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell School of Medicine in New York City, preschool can be a place where young children develop strong social skills. Children in preschool learn how to share, how to play nicely with others and how to compromise. These important skills that they learn at a young age are carried throughout our lifetimes.
2. Improved Language And Math Skills
It stands to reason that the more children speak, the stronger their language skills will become. Children aged three and four are developing these important skills at a rapid rate. By surrounding your child with their peers and adults outside of your social circle, his language skills will blossom. Additionally, the more people that your child has contact with during these formative years, the wider his knowledge base becomes.
As Learning Policy Institute says, “LPI’s researchers found that investments in quality preschool programs bolster student success. Students who attend preschool programs are more prepared for school and are less likely to be identified as having special needs or to be held back in elementary school than children who did not attend preschool. Studies also show clear positive effects on children’s early literacy and mathematics skills.” In other words, preschool children tend to higher academic skills.
3. Improved Life Long Outcomes
W. Steven Barnett, Founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University says research shows, “people who attend preschool are more productive in school, work, and society generally—with higher levels of education and earnings, less involvement in delinquency and crime, and fewer chronic health problems.” Clearly, high-quality preschool programs have a huge effect on the child’s life.
Conclusion on Benefits Of Attending Preschool
Clearly, the pros of preschool to the child are tremendous. In the short term, kids get a leg up socially and academically. This does not mean that a child who does not attend preschool will unable to catch up, however, it is an advantage of preschool. In the long term, preschool has some serious life advantages such as higher earnings. What this research says to me is that there are many important pros to preschool. If it is available in your area, it is a great option. If it is not available in your area or in your price range, you can still accomplish many of these benefits through homeschool preschool and organized group play and learning sessions. Of course, that option does require more of the parents time.
Preschool pros include a developed early childhood education program. In my area, preschool was only available to those with special needs, low income, or in the gifted program. Check with your area and express your concerns, they may be able to work things out for your toddler to be able to attend.
The Possible Cons of Preschool
Not every child is ready to leave the nest quite so early, even if it’s only for a few hours. If your child has issues with separation anxiety, sending him to preschool can do more damage than good. Children who are not ready for separation can be highly distressed by the mere thought of being sent to a strange place for the day. If you are unable to leave your child for any length of time without him becoming anxious, do not make the mistake of thinking that exposure to preschool will alleviate the problem.
If you want to go the preschool option but your child has separation anxiety, you can work with your child to make them more comfortable starting with group play dates where you are still there. You can also speak to a teacher about your concerns and or a qualified health professional for additional suggestions.
Children who are naturally shy tend to have a more difficult time with preschool than those who are outgoing. For some children, preschool is simply too stimulating to be a comfortable environment. If your child is upset by loud noises, is easily frightened or does not enjoy playing in groups, preschool may not be the immediate answer. You can work with your child to address issues of overstimulation.
Conclusion on Pros Of Preschool
It seems that there really aren’t very many disadvantages of preschool unless you have concerns that your child is just not ready for separation or stimulation. Under these circumstances, it is a good idea to address those concerns. The best way to help your child progress past those difficulties may be with a watchful eye and a qualified professional.
The largest disadvantage of preschool that I can see is that it may cost money in area if there is no public program. Be sure to inquire about the options that exist for preschool because even in areas without preschool available for all children, there is often still public preschool for those that meet certain conditions such as income or special need markers.
If you choose not to do preschool for your child, you can still teach your child the language and math basics at home. You can also work on his or her social skills by taking them to public places where they can interact with other children like parks and public play dates. Story hours at your local library are also a great way to introduce them to a class atmosphere.
If you think that preschool is right for your child, it’s important to understand that not all preschools are created equally. Do your research before selecting a preschool for your child when you have the choice of several. Some public schools are only available to low-income families or child development issues. When this is the case, private preschool is usually an option.
Look for a center that is able to meet your expectations and one that is suitable for the level of your child’s development. Preschool should be an enjoyable place for your child where he learns how to be social and how to learn; preschool should not be a place of stress for either you or your child. The preschool teacher should be able to set you and your child at ease. The benefits of preschool should include positive social interaction. It should be a fun learning experience for the child.
Saying that preschool is right or wrong for every child is a far-reaching generalization. Whether or not preschool is right or wrong is an individual decision that every parent must make for her child. There are lots of positives of preschool in the right scenario. However, it is possible for there to be disadvantages of preschool so trust your gut and do your research on if it is the right opportunity for your child. Your own child’s development may give you the clues you need to the best decision right now.
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This is a great article, I am getting my child equipped for kindergarten without preschool. I am teaching the reading, writing, math and even some science stuff. He’s also apart of a play group once a week and he’s already participated in a team sport and taken swim lessons. So he’s quite social and I think he will fit right in when it comes to kindergarten and know what is expected of him.
Suzi Satterfield says
My son has had huge benefits from preschool. He is a late talker (no medical reason for a language delay, no cognitive issues… he’s just not a talker). Since attending preschool, he’s finally experiencing that language explosion. He’s even used an occasional seven word sentence, which is just huge.
The language benefits alone was the prime reason for sending him to a good preschool program.
Good points you make! My kids are not shy at all, nor to they have separation anxiety. Since I work from home, I have the luxury of not needing preschool for child care. I opted for both of my children to attend home-based preschools for two days a week, just a few hours each day. It gave them an intro to school before kindergarten, but it was a nice, secure transition. They both loved it. And I loved that I didn’t have to give them up too much! They will be in school seemingly forever. I want to hold them close to me and close to home as long as possible!
My twins just finished up their 3rd year of preschool, and I can honestly say that for them, the benefits definitely outweighed any potential negatives.
My son (I have boy and a girl) is a little nervous now about kindergarten in a few weeks, but I think that any anxiety he’s experiencing now is orders of magnitude less than it would have been if he didn’t have such a great and positive preschool experience!
Thanks for writing this, and keep up the great work 🙂