Do you ever wonder how we made it out of childhood alive?
Parenthood brings forth a host of new precautions and worries we’d never previously known—so much so that our own childhood memories start to seem more like fiction than reality: We couldn’t possibly have been allowed to free-climb that rope all the way to the ceiling of the gymnasium that one week in elementary school phy-ed, nothing but a dented blue mat to break our falls if we let go.
Then again, we used to be able to go to the bathroom without a hall pass, and there never used to be hand sanitizer dispensers at every entrance to the school. To say that things have changed is an understatement. It’s becoming second nature to be highly protective of our children. We won’t leave them with just anyone and we want to be sure they’re getting the ‘best of the best’ in every sense of the phrase.
Some parents have begun to question why preschool is important, or if it’s important. Many wonder if it’s worth the money, while others submit to the general misconception that only children from lower-income families are in need of the benefits to be reaped from preschool. Parents are not only becoming skeptical about the necessity of preschool, but they are also becoming increasingly concerned about who is teaching their children what.
Now, a lot can be and has been said about cognitive development, parenting styles and nature vs. nurture, but when all is said and done, is preschool important for all children?
We think so, and we scoured the web for some expert opinions to help us explain why. Here’s what we found …
The root of the debate
Three-fourths of all children in the U.S. attend preschool. Parents, however, are torn on how they view pre-k education: Some parents withhold their children entirely; some parents enroll their children for the educational benefits; some parents enroll their children for the social benefits; and some parents enroll their children in place of child care.
Many believe that if parents are immersing their children in intellectually stimulating home environments, preschool isn’t all that necessary. Others view preschool as a vital stepping stone on a child’s path to social and cognitive development.
Debunking common myths about preschool
Every great debate houses a variety of misconceptions that stem from both sides. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common misconceptions about preschool and get to the bottom of them once and for all.
MYTH 1: Some hold the belief that children from low-income families benefit from preschool, while middle- and high-income families don’t require the same benefits for their children. This is based on the notion that children from lower-income families don’t receive the same attention and exposure as children from middle and higher-income families.
A report from the National Institute for Early Education Research, however, suggests that all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, benefit from general preschool programs. Across the spectrum of economic status, important social and cognitive improvements were seen in an array of students.
MYTH 2: Some believe that their children can prepare for school without attending preschool. Parents who are dedicated to their children’s emotional and intellectual development can make a tremendous impact on a child’s sense of self-awareness and social capabilities.
The NIEER report also concludes that a large percentage of kindergarteners have been reported as lacking important ‘school readiness skills. These include simple things like following directions and working independently. A 2004 poll reported an overwhelming number of kindergarten teachers supporting the notion that students who attended preschool adapted more successfully to their classrooms.
MYTH 3: There are also some who acknowledge the immediate success achieved with preschool students, but also assert that the effects are temporary and thus may not benefit students long-term.
Studies have argued, however, that not only do test scores reflect otherwise academically, but that there are also significant social and emotional benefits reported in students who attended preschool, and those can’t be ignored.
What preschool can do for your child
Approximately 40 states have begun to offer state-funded pre-k programs to underscore the importance of preschool in the development of children. Each child learns differently, and for that reason, the immediately visible effects of preschool can be immense or they can be subtle.
These benefits are sometimes realized more clearly when viewed long-term. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ACSD) contends that preschool students boast increased graduation rates, decreased crime and fewer incidents of grade retention.
Academic benefits aside, some experts believe preschool teaches kids how to be students—how to listen well, how to share, how to be patient and how to participate. These are all skills that will prove tremendously helpful in your child’s transition into kindergarten.
Time in the classroom teaches young students how to respect the world around them and how to be inquisitive, channeling all that built-up curiosity into a hunger for learning. High-quality preschool programs attempt to help students answer their own questions through exploring the different options, experimenting and engaging in conversation.
What this means for you
Rediscovering why preschool is important in some of the fundamental areas of development for our children can lead to many different things. Statistically, enrolling our children in preschool will benefit them in numerous ways, but that doesn’t necessarily calm the overprotective nature that parents often possess.
It is for that reason that caring and responsible preschool teachers are in high demand. In fact, more than 76,000 preschool teacher jobs are projected to be added to the marketplace by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Parents want their children to reap the proven benefits of attending preschool, but first and foremost, they want to trust the teachers who facilitate the learning.
To learn more about the importance of preschool and, by extension, the undeniable value of preschool teachers, check out this article about universal pre-k and find out how it affects you.