The benefits of pre kindergarten and preschool have been extensively documented; there’s simply no denying that early education can have a profound and lasting impact on a child’s educational and social development. There is, however, still debate on the best preschool teaching methods and what, exactly, can make early childhood education successful. Here are some important points that can guide you if you’re searching for the best preschool for your child:
- Play-Based Curriculum
Preschools are becoming increasingly academic in their focus and structure, and that’s not a good thing. Children learn through carefully guided play better than they do through drills and exercises, and almost all the respected early education systems advocate for play-based learning.
- An Emphasis on Imagination
Not only can imagination help children to learn information from new topics, it develops an important mindset. Through imagination, children can place themselves in other situations and see things from another person’s perspective — a key aspect of developing empathy and most social skills.
- Student-Directed Learning
Starting in preschool, respecting a child’s individual interests and encouraging curiosity can turn students into lifelong learners. This doesn’t mean an adult (teacher or parent) should never introduce a new topic; instead, it means that extra attention should be paid to topics a child takes an interest in.
- Hands-On Activities
Tactile learning is an important strategy for young students. Although preschoolers are rapidly developing their language skills and understanding of symbols (which both contribute in vital ways to literacy), they also need to work on coordination and fine motor skills. Hands-on activities can help them learn about new topics and work on these physical skills.
- Flexible Learning Outcomes
The simple truth is that while child psychology can provide rough guidelines of the capabilities children gain at certain ages, not all children can acquire the same skills right on schedule. Any learning system that prescribes very rigid expectations for grades at such a young age (such as Common Core, which dictates kindergarteners must be able to read) risks frustrating children and undermining self-confidence in their ability to learn — and often without significant gains, since a child who struggles to read at age 4 or 5 might easily pick up the skill at age 6 with the proper nurturing and encouragement.
What do you think makes a preschool truly excellent? Share your thoughts in the comments.