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It’s never too late to start

By KEN MOORE • Sep 27, 2019 at 11:00 AM

As the 2019-2020 school year is several weeks into the academic calendar, many parents of 3- and 4-year-olds begin the debate of preschool. Should I send them or shouldn’t I send them?

It may be too late. … Or I’ll just start them in kindergarten next fall.

Although preschool isn’t a requirement before entering kindergarten, there are many researched articles that have an opinion on both possible answers. Being an elementary principal of an award-winning preschool program, I tend to be swayed toward one side of the question. Much is written on the topic of preschool; one such article to be noted is from GreatSchools.com. Great Schools has a top 10 list of reasons why your child should attend preschool. I will quickly summarize their opinion and interject my own support of the topic below.

No. 1: Preschool is a chance for students to experience school. School is a structured setting of teachers and students in an environment that promotes exploration and learning.

No. 2: Preparation for kindergarten is one of the main goals of preschool. As our world is ever-changing more demands are placed upon our students’ abilities.

No. 3: Preschool can promote social and emotional growth. Children succeed in an environment that is nurturing with all their caregivers at home and school. “Three- and 4-year-olds learn through their experiences and good teachers make time for those “teachable moments” when they can help children learn to manage frustrations or anger.

No. 4: Constructive chaos. Although it may not appear that way, preschool is a structured setting. In a good structured environment, students have enough space to engage socially and have constructed time to play with classmates.

No. 5: Children need to be able to have the opportunity to make choices provided a number of activities that interest them.

No. 6: Children learn in preschool to care for themselves and others. Preschools need to promote self-worth through engaging children in actions such as washing their hands before snack time, keeping personal belongings in their “cubby,” and putting away toys before moving to a new activity. They may even be assigned a “job” while in class, such as caring for plants or turning on or off the lights. In a high-quality preschool program, children are introduced to the behaviors required to function successfully in a kindergarten classroom. For example, during group activities such as “circle time,” children learn to focus attention on the teacher, listen while others are speaking and wait their turn to talk.

No. 7: Promoting language and cognitive skills. “Between the ages of 3 and 5, a child’s vocabulary grows from 900 to 2,500 words;” children are exposed to many engaging activities such as singing songs, asking thought-provoking questions about the world around them, how trees grow and allow time to investigate colors in science. At Norwalk City Preschool, teachers and children routinely go on exploration walks in the surrounding neighborhoods exploring the environment around them.

No. 8: Preschool teachers nurture a child’s curiosity. Children are encouraged to explore their world around them. Teachers allow for the opportunity to investigate and solve questions about their world. Teachers use children’s interests and ideas to create activities that are of interest to them. The imaginary play area in a high-quality preschool is well-stocked with costumes, “props” and child-size household items, such as stoves, sinks and cupboards. It’s often in this activity area that preschool-age children progress steadily from solitary play to one-on-one play to complicated group play.

No. 9: Preschool activities boost pre-math and literacy skills. “To prepare children for the academic demands of kindergarten, teachers offer a wide variety of games and activities that help children acquire the pre-math and literacy skills.” A well-balanced approach between play and cognitive skills to learning is the goal of all great preschools. Matching games, counting games and certain board games support math concepts in school. While singing the alphabet song, learning rhymes, and listening to engaging stories all aid in the development of early literacy skills.

No. 10: Motor development. Great preschools allow for children to run and play often. Developing creative play that involves hand-eye coordination and balance are essential. Our preschool often holds an annual “sock” snowball toss. Using balled up socks, students can toss socks at their teachers and principal in a sock toss in the gymnasium on selected days in the winter. While in the spring, they are able to complete an obstacle course in the gym on scooters and or tricycles.

The 10 above mentioned reasons should provide parents with an understanding that preschool is an environment that provides children with opportunities to grow and learn individually and collectively as they gain in confidence to build for success in kindergarten.

Below is a list of area preschools:

Care Works, Inc.: 419-663-2223

Christian Day Nursery School: 419-668-2856

EHOVE Early Childhood Education: 419-499-5226

Erie Huron CAC Headstart: 419-663-2623

Junior Explorers: 419-668-9374

Maple City Christian Preschool: 419-668-9207

Norwalk Child Care Center, Inc.: 419-668-8387

Norwalk City Schools Preschool: 419-668-6035

St. Paul Catholic School Early Childhood Center: 419-668-8480

Local columnist Ken Moore is the Maplehurst Elementary school principal.

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