Do you ever wonder what your child learns when they go to preschool? Why does it cost so much to drop them off at a place for them to play? How come there are so many toys everywhere when the are supposed to be learning skills to prepare them for Kindergarten?
I was asked these questions so many times as a Preschool Director. My answer was simple: Sure, children are learning academic skills here, but one of the most important things need to learn to be ready for Kindergarten is social skills.
What 6 social skills will your child learn when they attend preschool?
1. Feel comfortable asking questions.
Something that children learn in preschool is how to ask adults and other children questions. Questions about what they are doing, why they are doing it and how to resolve problems. Once children start Kindergarten, a teacher has at least 19 other students in their class. They can't be watching your child the whole time and your child needs to feel confident in asking questions when they need help.
2. The ability to share space and objects with other children.
With at least 19 other children sharing the same room, there are bound to be more then one child that wants to sit in the same space, play with the same toy, use the same color crayon or be the first in line. Learning how to approach other children who want the same thing your child does takes practices, only learned through experience. Preschool days are filled with opportunities for sharing, taking turns and learning how to wait. There is one technique that I love called "Choice Boards for taking Turns." Learn more about this tool here.
3. The ability to stop and use the bathroom when they are busy.
Potty training is something that children need to be ready for, not only physically but also cognitively. Potty training isn't easy, but mastering this skill is only the first step to actually being potty trained at school. Once your child is potty trained, have you noticed that they need to be reminded to try to go to the bathroom every time they leave the house? Once your child starts Kindergarten, there are not as many reminders which may lead to accidents. In preschool, potty time is built into the schedules, offering children multiple opportunities throughout the day to use the bathroom. This practice will teach your child that even though they are busy completing a task at school, the task will still be there for them if they take a break to use the bathroom. If you are currently working on potty training, download our free potty training tips here.
4. Can sit and listen to directions and instructions from teachers when they are surrounded by 24 other children.
Imagine sitting in a group with 24 other children. Some may be wiggling, some may be tapping their feet, some may be chatting and others may be laying down. Children are children and every child pays attention in their own way. Practicing circle time, small group times and individual instruction in preschool helps children pay attention even when there are distractions everywhere. In Kindergarten, there are so many academic concepts taught that focus is an important skill to obtain prior to starting Preschool. If you are interested in learning what your child should know before they start Kindergarten, check out our grid here.
5. Are able to follow routines easily.
After you drop your child off at Kindergarten, there will be a daily routine they are expected to follow. Usually there are pictures or written schedules that help your child remember what to do throughout the day. For instance, as soon as they enter the classroom, they take off their jacket, put their lunch in their cubby and sit at their desk. Then they draw a picture in their journal until the bell rings and the teacher gives them their first assignment. Schedules and routines are an important part of preschool. Everyday children do different activities, but they are embedded within the same daily schedule (circle time, snack time, free play, outside time, lunch time, ect). Repetitive schedules help children understand what is expected of them and makes it easy for them to remember what happens next.
6. Will understand that you will come back for them at the end of the day.
Do you get nervous when you think about dropping your child off on their first day of school? Do you wonder about the unknown, if they are going to make friends, listen to the teacher or cry? Sending children to preschool is just as important for them as it is for you. Practice separating from you helps your child learn that they are able to trust their teachers and that you will come back for them at the end of the day. The one thing new children would ask me when they first started at my preschool was "is mommy ever coming back?" I was able to reassure them that they were and show them on the schedule when pick up time is. When children start preschool, they are able to take all the time they need to calm down, play with their favorite toy or sit with a teacher. They can do this without worry that they are missing something important. If your child was unable to practice this skill prior to starting Kindergarten, your child may miss out on important lessons and the "lets get to know each other" part of the school year while they are trying to calm down. Knowing that your child had this practice in preschool will prepare them for success on their first day of school!
Attending preschool will make their first day of Kindergarten easier on you, knowing that your child makes friends easily and knowing that they will ask a teacher if they need anything. No matter what preschool theory, philosophy or curriculum you decide is best for your child, all preschool programs work on these 6 social skills. Make sure that when you start looking for preschools, you ask these 12 important questions.
About the Author: Jeana Kinne, MA has spent over 16 years in the Early Childhood Education field. She has worked as a Preschool Teacher, Preschool Director, Preschool Consultant and with children with Special Needs. Jeana created JDEducational to guide parents in learning simple teaching techniques which keep their child engaged, excited to learn. She hopes that through learning and growing together, families will create life-long memories. Learn More About Jeana Here.
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