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The Benefits of Preschool

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: How important is preschool?

My son is about to turn three on Saturday. My husband feels very strongly about our son not going to preschool and just starting kindergarten when he turns five.

We both did not attend preschool when we were young, so my husband doesn't feel it's important. I am not that sure. Our son is very bright; he already knows his colors, shapes, and ABC's, he can count to twenty. He's starting to learn how to use an old Macintosh computer that we have. So, my question is, what is he going to learn in preschool that we are not teaching him at home? Besides interacting with other children, what is the benefit?

A: The chance to interact with other children is the benefit of preschool in a nutshell but it is far more than what those few words say. You are so wise to pursue more information when you feel that the obvious may not be all there is to know.

Interacting with other children means learning how to wait, how to take turns, and how to listen. Young children learn social skills when they interact with other children. These social skills are critical to a developing personality and I would not dismiss them lightly.

There are other advantages to preschools -- primarily that they are the foundations for academic learning. In preschool your child will listen to poetry and songs -- building blocks needed to grasp phonics and reading skills when it is developmentally appropriate. The play that takes place with water, sand, and containers form the foundation for understanding some basic math concepts. Matching, sequencing, one-to-one correspondence are all activities that are done over and over in preschool settings and help children get ready to learn academics. Watching other children pursue a challenging task is also helpful. The presence of other children and a wide variety of materials are two big reasons why a preschool is a good thing.

I believe preschool is beneficial and can do many things that will help children be successful when formal school begins. I also feel that there are many schools that are advertised as preschools that are not beneficial, and it requires a concerned parent to interview and observe before placing their child.

More on: Expert Advice

After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.


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