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Preschool and Socializing Options
Q: Is sending your child to preschool much like day care? I am very interested in my son having interaction with other children his age. However, I am not in need of daycare, or a full-time program where somebody takes care of him. What and where would I need to look to find a program like this, such as a playgroup which would provide him the interaction he needs?
A: There is no magic in the name preschool or daycare (often referred to as child care). Children will learn how to socialize in either setting. Traditionally, preschool programs have placed greater emphasis on preparing children academically for school. Keep in mind that many daycare centers and preschools now offer similar programs. What you need to find is a quality program.
It is definitely important for your son to have interaction with other children his age. In fact, research has shown that peer relationships contribute a great deal to social development and to the effectiveness with which people function as adults. Indeed, the single best childhood predictor of adult adaptation is not IQ, not school grades, and not classroom behavior -- what matters is how the child gets along with other children.
If you like, you can begin your son's interaction with other children right in your own home by inviting children his age for short visits. Start with just one youthful visitor and his or her parent. Once your child has become accustomed to playing at home and in the homes of other children, he should be ready to participate in a playgroup. Many playgroups require parent involvement. Ask friends and relatives about programs that they use for their own children. Also, many churches and Y organizations sponsor playgroups.
You can find information on good early childhood programs by visiting the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) website. The site also has a list of accredited programs that have met the highest standards.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.