When it comes time to send your child to preschool, you will not be alone if you are stressed over what type of preschool to send them to. Depending on your location, you likely have many different options regarding the class size, cost, and curriculum involved. You likely want to send your child to the best preschool possible and, for many parents, that means getting a head start in the academic arena. However, you may be surprised to learn that play-based preschools will likely help your child prepare for kindergarten and school just as well as academic-based preschools.
Kindergartens Do Not Require a High Academic Level
When you critically assess the requirements that most kindergartens have, you will find there is very little emphasis on academics. Your child will most likely be expected to be able to count to 20, recite the alphabet, and recognize shapes and letters. While knowing how to read and write and perform simple mathematics may get your child into a more competitive kindergarten program, if they are going to public school, they may actually find that they are bored in kindergarten and first grade if they master these skills in preschool.
A Desire to Learn and the Ability to Get Involved Is More Important Than Academic Aptitude
Success in kindergarten depends more on a child's enthusiasm to learn than their academic aptitude. If a child is eager to learn, they will engage in class and be more likely to listen to the teacher and complete assignments. Play-based preschools can help children associate learning with fun and be more positive about going to school and engaging in academic lessons.
Playing Throughout the Day Can Help Improve Your Child's Concentration
Academic programs are great for children who already have a moderate to high level of concentration. However, many young children have difficulties sitting still for a lesson or completing longer projects. A play-based program will help your child burn off extra energy throughout the day, and that will allow them to concentrate on tasks more easily. They can build their concentration naturally, at their own pace. This can help teach them how to balance their education in the future.
Your Child Will Likely Learn More Social Skills in a Play-Based Program
Social skills are an important aspect of kindergarten. If your child is able to make new friends, they will likely feel more comfortable in their kindergarten class. Additionally, if they are used to following instructions from teachers and interacting with adults in preschool, then they will easily be able to adjust to their relationship with their kindergarten teacher. While academic programs will give your child a variety of social experiences, play-based experiences may give your child more social opportunities as well as great confidence among their peers and teachers.
Play-Based Programs Often Teach Independence
Generally, academic programs follow strict curricula and involve set schedules during which children work on projects. Alternatively, a play-based preschool is more likely to set up several stations that allow children to decide which activities interest them. They are more likely to engage in individual play throughout the day and make choices supported by their teachers rather than follow the instructions of their teachers. This can help your child learn to become more independent in an academic environment by teaching them to take chances and pursue activities and projects that interest them.
Both academic and play-based programs have several benefits. Which one is right for your child depends on your child's temperament and interests. However, if you are concerned about academic success, you should not immediately eliminate play-based programs from your list of preschool choices.
Continue reading more about preschool programs by researching specific schools in your area.