What Children Learn in Preschool
Looking for a preschool can be serious business. Of course, you want to find a preschool that will prepare your child for kindergarten. Is that all you should be looking for? Here is some information on some of the objectives that your child should experience in preschool. Some of these are more important than others yet don’t disregard any of it.
Numbers are a very big part of our lives. Whether you are asking a child how old they are or telling them they can have two cookies for a snack, numbers are used often. Preschool teachers should help your child recognize their numbers from 0-10. Learning what they look like and whether they are in order or not. Counting in order is another separate skill that takes memorization. Your child will be able to count objects and touch each one as they count.
I often count with my preschoolers when we are using the calendar to figure out the correct date. We also count by 5’s and 10’s to 100. I have two-year-olds that are able to do this. A child is able to learn things like counting to 100 because we use repetition. If we are counting every day the child is able to memorize the numbers.
Learning the proper way to write numbers is important too. In my daycare, if a child needs more to challenge them I often give them simple math problems and work on numbers from 1-100.
Basic Shapes and Colors
Often kids will know their colors and most common shapes, like a heart or circle, which will help your student feel more confident in school. If your child does not know their colors and shapes, the preschool experience will be something they can benefit from. Every week I have a new letter in the middle of the table. I will find things that begin with each letter. I will always make sure I include colors and shapes. For example, if the letter is “P” I will make sure the colors pink and purple are included along with a pentagon shape.
Alphabet Recognition and Phonics
Learning the alphabet and phonics are my favorite part of preschool. I consider them probably the most important skills of preschool. Recognizing and learning phonics leads to reading. We spend a lot of time learning our letters and the sounds they make.
I teach kids from 2-5 years at the same time. We practice letters and phonics together whether it is their first year or third year. When I talk to the kids about letters I always refer to them in upper and lower case. I always make sure that they see both together so they understand that the letter “Aa” can look two different ways and usually makes the same sound(s). We have a lot of practice throughout the week. In the first year of preschool, they are just taking everything in. In the second year, the kids start to recognize the letters and the sounds they made. I have some 3-year-olds coming up with words that begin with the letter of the week.
Fine Motor Skills
What are fine motor skills? Fine motor skills are the mastering of skills, like coloring, drawing, cutting, gathering, strength, and control. Most preschools have many activities that work on fine motor skills. Painting, cutting, gluing, and drawing. The one thing I make sure my preschoolers work on is their fine motor skills. It is important to me to help preschoolers learn to hold a pencil and crayon the right way, and it’s important to keep their hands from getting tired.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills are just as important as fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are activities such as running, jumping rope, climbing and playing soccer. Gross motor skills are also associated with balance, coordination and physical strength. These skills help your child to be successful at school and in the community.
Having structure is important, but so is time for unstructured play. Activities like playing with trucks, building with blocks, playing house, and quietly sitting reading books. Unstructured play allows for imagination to develop and friendships to grow. I always make sure the kids have ample time to just play. It is neat to watch the games they makeup and the ideas they come up with, like making cell phones out of Duplo Legos. I enjoy watching relationships develop between the children.
These skills are important in following directions and focusing. There should be lots of different opportunities to give your child the chance to practice these skills. Whether it’s at storytime, while the teacher is talking and giving directions, or friends talking back and forth. Listening skills are important in communicating with others.
Social Skills and Independence
Preschoolers need to learn how to socialize, how to share and play with others. They need to learn how to cooperate and work together in groups. They also need to be able to follow directions and communicate their needs. As the child grows they will need to be their own advocate. Asking for help when they need it.
Independence also includes knowing how to dress themselves such as putting on shoes or boots. Zipping coats, putting on snow pants, hats and gloves if needed. This makes the child more confident and helps the teacher get everyone ready to go outside.
I hope this is helpful to you in providing some ideas of what to look for in a preschool. Each preschool is different and their choice of focus on education may be different. Ask questions and make sure you get the answers you are looking for. If you have a chance to visit the preschool with your child, do so. Your child will be a good indicator if he or she will be comfortable in the environment. Watch how the teacher interacts with your child. What kind of activities do they have for your child to do? See if they have a calendar you can look at to see what they do monthly. It is very important that you and your child are comfortable with the learning environment in order to get the most out of their preschool experience, and best prepare them for kindergarten.