Is Preschool Necessary?


Photo by cajunjenn

Kindergarten has changed a lot since I attended. I remember drawing, playing house, naps, and reciting ABCs. Writing and reading letters and numbers didn't even figure till I was in the 1st or 2nd grade.

Today the learning schedule has been bumped up earlier, at least in public schools, which is why many moms around CafeMom have been asking: Is a formal preschool program really necessary for kindergarten? There are lots of different opinions, but two distinct camps:

Yes, it's so important!

"Preschool is not just about learning ABCs and 123s. It's is about learning to socialize with peers. They also learn how to conduct themselves in a classroom. Kids that do not attend preschool can have a harder time in kindergarten." --KYLIEAARONMOMMY

"My DD's preschool is helping them learn how to hold pencils and crayons. The teacher told me that if they learn the wrong way, it takes forever to correct it." --threebrats

Nope, it's not necessary

" ... if you are going to teach him at home. As for socialization, do you interact with other people? If so, there's your socialization." dreaksgirl

"I don't think we'll send my oldest daughter, who will be 3 in June. She plays much better with other kids already (like when we go to the play area) and has her sisters to play with around the house. So I guess I would recommend preschool if you have any concerns about your daughter's ability to adjust once kindergarten comes around, but if not then staying home til then might be the way to go." --sothankful

anetrnlov has a middle-of-the-road answer. She's hasn't found a formal preschool necessary with her own children, but would have recommended it for her nephew, 5. "Socially, he is 3. He has no concept of manners, personal space or how to play with others. He knows a lot of useless trivia, but does not know the basics."

Okay, so despite the differing views, it seems there's one consensus: Some pre-K skills are important, whether they are taught in a formal program or at home. I decided to delve into the issue a bit more by asking sandra314, owner of the Preschool Themes group, to chime in. She said she's seen a growing trend of parents homeschooling during the preschool years. Those vital skills can easily be taught through:

  • Reading to your child, playing, and social interactions.
  • Following their child's interests and adding activities to it. Look at every situation as a potential learning opportunity. Going grocery shopping can be terrific for improving math skills such as counting, letter recognition, and color identification. 
  • Using educational toys, books, and children’s music (Raffi is a favorite musical artist of children's songs), stimulating videos, art supplies, gardening materials, and other items that help children learn.

Wondering what specific academic skills your child actually needs before entering kindergarten? sandra314 says many agree these are the basics:

Alphabet recognition (learning the letters in upper and lower case)

Learning colors (color Identification)

Fine motor skills such as learning to cut with safety scissors    

Early math concepts such as sorting by shape, color and size. Learning to count from 1-10 or 1-20. 

Pre-writing skills, such as drawing lines straight, diagonal, waves, etc., so that the child can then start to practice writing his name and only in capital letters (most children ages 3-5 don't have adequate fine motor skills to begin writing lower case letters). This will also help him to recognize his name in print, which is important.

For those of you planning to keep their child home, check out groups like Preschool Themes and Homeschooling and Teaching Curriculum resources. And momto2pumpkins, a former preschool teacher and mom of a 2 year old, has an awesome blog called Teaching Tinytots at Mommy School. It's packed with loads of great projects, activities and advice. Happy preschooling!

development & growth, learning, nursery school, play


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mimis... mimismommy

I am not that for preschool for a couple of reasons. First, when I talked to a Kindergarten about it she told me that the difference is only in the first half of school and they have to teach like the children didn't get preschool so the difference goes to those who did.  They are better at what they are suppose to do but she said alot of them are bored and restless because they are waiting for others to catch up to them.  Plus, I feel like they are starting way too early and trying to cram alot of information to soon.  I think kids should be kids, toddlers toddlers, and babies babies!  I am letting my child be young. We are old for more time than we are young!

momto... momto2pumpkins

Thanks for the listing my blog!  I love how you listed both sides of the issue.

As  a former  preschool teacher and a stay at home I see both sides of the issue! I don't feel it hurts the kids who stay home and learn at home. My oldest stayed at home and i taught what she would have done in prek, and when she started kindergarten she was right up there with the kids that went to kindergarten. However if your not going to send them to kindergarten then you need to teach them at home. It doesn't have to be a rigid schedule just learning moments as I like to call them! You can teach them anywhere: colors on a walk, letters at the store, etc...

anyway love the toddler buzz blog and loved the article! smile mini


Mama0... Mama0f3grlz

I did not send my oldest daughter because I didn't think she needed it. She is already extremely bright and very social. Her younger sister I think could benefit. It's not that she's not smart, she's also very bright but she doesn't catch on to things quite so easily and is very shy. I feel she would benefit from the extra socialization.

sandr... sandra314

I enjoyed reading the article. Thank you for allowing me to offer helpful information for the article and our Cafemom members.  As a former public school teacher and presently a Homeschooler, I have seen both sides to this issue.  

While the issue of "Is Preschool Necessary?" goes on... I feel that it is important to note that that "Preschool" should not meant to be work and not play.  Preschool in my opinion is learning through play and interaction with others.  We all have been taught to sit, stand, crawl and walk by our parents (as our first Teachers in life) so why not teach colors, numbers and shapes through play?   

Again, thank you for enlisting me for your article and featuring my cafemom group "Preschool Themes" for parents, preschool teachers, daycare providers and homeschoolers of children ages 3 to 5.  

mommy... mommytobe24

great article.

I am not sure if should put my baby in day care but i think i know i maybe put my baby in preschool so she learn to social with others. i wanted her to have a lot of fun at school and like school i do not wanted her to be scary when she goes kindergarden

i will have to see because she only 1

never... nevergiveupmom

I enjoy homeschooling my kids and I will home school my baby. I feel that my kids learn more then what they would at public school. I make sure they have social interaction by having them in sports, play dates, church activities, ect. I went to public school for several years then when I was in high school I decided to get home schooled. I really enjoyed it because I still went to all my dances, football games, ect., and then I got to enjoy my days at home learning with a lot less stress. To me it was the best of both worlds. But the rest of my siblings went to public school. My mom always gave us the choice. She never pressured us on the decision.

Being homeschooled or going to public/private school.........none of them are right or wrong. I say its based on how the child is and what the parents feel they are able to do.

Melis... Melissabear3

With all the technology there are tons of free sites for the little ones to look at and you can teach them to hold a pencil or crayon yourself. As far as social interaction, go the the play area at Mcdonald's or the mall. My older 2 did not attend a formal preschool, they were taught at home.

CindyC CindyC

Nope, not important.  Our DD didn't go to preschool and she was on the verge of reading when entering kindergarten.  She was actually ready for school at 4, but alas you have to be almost 5 to attend.  Preschool was not schoolish enough for her.

jcat jcat

Its good to know what they have to know. I hope when we do send her she isn't bored.  I just want my child to experience some communication skills, in a controlled environment. I watch her on the playground and parks and she doesn't know how to engage with other kids. I feel so bad for her sometimes.

sport... sportymom76

It's nice to see that not everyone out there is rushing to put their kids in preschool.  Preschool has many wonderful benefits and kids learn a lot and experience a lot in good preschools, but certainly not necessary for kindergarten.  And certainly not multiple years of preschool.  I know so many moms stressing about what preschool to put their 2 yr old into...what happened to preschool being just that something "pre" school for 4 year olds.  Many oldest who is now in kinder only went to 1 year of preschool for 2 days a week and that was plenty. 

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