Is Preschool Necessary?

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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