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The Suburbanite
  • Preschool becoming more, more essential

  • Preschool isn’t for sissies.



    It’s also becoming less of an option and more of a kindergarten prerequisite.

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  • Preschool isn’t for sissies.
    It’s also becoming less of an option and more of a kindergarten prerequisite.
    As 21st-century education continues to change and adapt to the needs of young learners, classroom lessons are becoming more and more rigorous.
    What used to be reserved for first-grade learning has become a central part of kindergarten. Children are starting to read and write full sentences before they ever set foot in first grade. That makes preschool foundations essential to kindergarten.
    According to Beth Clark-Thomas, a professor of education at Malone University, those changes are requiring early childhood education to change drastically.
    “First of all, this whole notion of preschool being synonymous with what we used to call ‘nursery school’ or ‘day care’ is a misconception,” Clark-Thomas said. “Preschool is actually vital in meeting the needs of today’s children, who are growing up in a different society than their parents.”
    Like their peers who are teaching older students, preschool teachers have a set of educational standards that must guide their lesson plans. These  Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS) are designed to prepare children for lifelong goals by focusing on developing five specific areas:
    • Social and emotional development.
    • Physical well-being and motor skills.
    • Approaches toward learning.
    • Language and literacy.
    • Cognition and general knowledge.
    Children who are engaged in learning at the youngest levels,  those plugged into quality preschool programs that emphasize both education and play, are better prepared for the lessons that kindergarten brings.
    Kathleen McCartney, PhD, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, Mass., would agree. In a recent article on the Parents.com website, McCartney notes that research is supporting the importance of structured early childhood education.
    “There’s increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool,” McCartney is quoted as saying. “At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize – get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time.”
    FINDING YOUR FIT
    Parents.com recommends looking for preschools when your child is 2-1/2-years-old. Some preschools will already be accepting children that young, but it’s up to the parents to determine if the child is ready for that kind of learning.
    Finding the right preschool for your child will take time and a lot of research. Many preschools have special points of emphasis. Some may be religious-based. The key is finding an environment where your child will thrive, discover and grow.
    Make an appointment to visit the preschools that pique your interest. Here are some of the things that Parents.com recommends looking for:
    • Is the facility clean and safe?
    Page 2 of 2 - • Is there a well-kept outdoor play area?
    • Are there plenty of toys and books in good condition?
    • Is the atmosphere friendly and warm?
    • Are art education lessons a part of every day? Does the school foster individual creativity through movement and artwork?
    For more information about finding the right preschool for your family or for other information about fostering strong educational environments for your child at home visit www.parents.com.

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