5 Common Sense Benefits of Preschool

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Eli Richardson

We're thinking about taking our son to preschool, but we were a little worried about it being too soon. But…

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Education and politics: what a great mixture for drama in the media.   President Obama’s push for universal Pre-K has given rise to all kinds of debates surrounding the issue. Is it good for kids? Do parents need it? Is it fair? Is it cost-effective? And so on.

Even otherwise peace-loving Swedes seem to be weighing in from across the Atlantic. (Hint: don’t mess with Swedes when it comes to public benefits surrounding kids. They take it very seriously.)

American proponents of universal Pre-K argue that it leads to less crime and to increased economic development. Opponents say it doesn’t reflect American reality in a variety of ways. All of which may be true.

What we would like to do is take a step back from politics, public interest, pejoratives and suggest five “real world” benefits of preschool. We won’t quite talk about science or revenue figures, just common sense!

Here they are:

1. Earlier exposure to learning doesn’t hurt. The sooner a child starts getting familiar with letters, numbers, and shapes, and especially languages the better. Yes, of course, children can be exposed to all of these things at home, but a high-quality preschool program will most likely have a broader variety and a more adequate program.

2. Kids like other kids (usually!) When children socialize and observe each other, they enjoy it. Additionally, placing them in the new social environment will not hurt from a developmental perspective. As above with exposure to learning, they have a lot to gain and nothing to lose.

3. It builds immune systems the old-fashioned way. The first year or so in a new school environment is one big series of viruses, runny noses, and colds for most kids. Yes, it will be a tough year, but kids (and their parents) can get it over with before starting Kindergarten!

4. Kids start adjusting to being away from their parents. They will have to eventually, obviously. Pre-K is a chance to grease the wheels a little bit.

5. You can’t do it all by yourself. It is theoretically possible for you to engineer all of the above for your child with a series of play-dates, group activities with other parents, and lessons at home? Yes. But realistically, it will be difficult for you to do so, at least to the level a high-quality Pre-K program can, without making it your full-time job and finding a group of like-minded parents with children of the same age. If that is not possible, your child may lose these opportunities. And even if it is possible, you may lose your sanity! (As you know, when it comes to kids, full-time literally means full-time.)

Preschool is not a catch-all solution and it may not be the perfect fit for every child. The potential benefits of preschool and early childhood education, however, make it worth considering. Most child care and preschool programs, especially for the youngest kids, are flexible when it comes to scheduling and allow you to evaluate if it works for you and your child, one step at a time.

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  • We’re thinking about taking our son to preschool, but we were a little worried about it being too soon. But after reading your piece, I think we should definitely start. Thanks for the tips!

  • I really like that you mentioned how impactful preschool can be on a social level, allowing kids to develop friendships and communicate with other kids at an early age. M wife and I have been considering placing our daughter in preschool, but we don’t know if she’s quite ready. After reading all of the benefits listed here, I honestly think it would be a great step for her.

  • Preschool sounds like a great idea for my kids. I like the idea of building up their immune system the old fashioned way, so they won’t get sick as often. I was always sick as a kid, and I don’t want them to go through that.

  • It may be tough to admit this, but you are right when you said that by bringing my kids closer to other kids, we can deal with the viruses that may affect them earlier, and have them ready for kindergarten. Getting infected with viruses is one way to toughen up the immune system after all. Thanks for the informative article. I’ll talk to my wife about enrolling our kids in a preschool next year.

  • My wife and I have been thinking about enrolling our kid in preschool but we aren’t sure if it’s worth it or not. I like that you mention how your kid might miss out on friendships without being in a classroom. I do find it hard to make time for playdates so this might be the perfect way to find friends for him. Thanks for sharing!

  • I like how you said that children have a lot to gain and nothing to lose by going to a preschool. Personally, the social benefits alone of being around other kids and learning with them could be a great way to get them on the path to a love of lifelong learning. If they learn what is expected earlier on it will help them throughout their lives because they will know exactly what it is that they need to do to be able to succeed in their studies.

  • In your article, you stated that the sooner a child starts getting familiar with letters, numbers, and shapes, and especially languages the better. My sister has been trying to teach her kids different things and hasn’t had too much success. I wonder if there are certain requirements that most kids need to meet before being admitted into one of these programs.

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