“There's increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool,” says Parents advisor Kathleen McCartney, PhD, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education. “At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize — get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time.” (Parents.com)
Unlike kindergarten, preschool attendance isn't mandatory, but an ever-growing body of evidence shows that preschool is highly beneficial for children.
The biggest overall advantage of preschool is that it sets the stage for your child to succeed socially and academically in kindergarten and elementary school. Often, preschool is the first time your child will participate in activities with groups of children in a structured way, and it introduces your child to the concept of having a teacher.
So when you ask yourself, “Should I send my child to preschool?”, know that your child will learn plenty about what it means to follow group instructions and how to share with other children.
A quality preschool program is wonderful for kindergarten preparation, balancing a focus on pre-literacy and pre-math skills development with play time. These preschools can “organize space, time and activities to be in sync with children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities,” according to GreatSchools.org.
Children who attend a high-quality program enter kindergarten with:
- Better pre-reading skills
- Stronger basic math skills
- Richer vocabularies
Most children in the United States attend some preschool, with more than two-thirds of 4-year-old children attending at least one year. And what about 3-year-olds? More than 40 percent of them were attending preschool in 2005.
Long-Term Study Shows Significant Benefits
Preschool has been shown to prepare children for kindergarten, but what about the long-term benefits? One long-term study involving 1,539 children from Chicago’s lowest-income neighborhoods showed incredible results: to “cut crime, raise education and income levels, and reduce addiction rates among the poor, no program offers more bang for the buck than preschool.”
By the time the children in the study reached the age of 28, those who attended preschool were:
- 28 percent less likely to have alcohol or drug challenges or to be in prison or jail
- 24 percent more likely to have attended a four-year college
- 22 percent less likely to have been arrested for a felony
- Likely to be earning a higher income
But for preschool to be effective, the program must be high-quality with a structured yet nurturing environment overseen by qualified teachers. A chain reaction following this preschool experience was noted, with the biggest results seen in boys and in the children with the least-educated families.
Choosing the Right Preschool
Talk to the teachers. Ask what your child will be doing and how well he or she will be supervised. How comfortable do you feel with the teachers, overall, and the answers that they provide? Is the facility clean, with smoke detectors? Do the toys, books and other materials look age appropriate, with a variety of activities? Does the atmosphere seem fun and upbeat?
We invite you to contact Horizon Education Centers for our pre-kindergarten programming, available in eight different locations in Northeast Ohio.