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The Benefits of Preschool for Your Toddler

How Beneficial is preschool for your toddler? Jane M. Rentas Barry University Author Note This paper was prepared for English 202 taught by Dr. Louise Rogers How beneficial is preschool for your toddler? Preschool is an early childhood program in which children combine learning with playing in a program run by professionally trained adults.

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Children are most commonly enrolled in preschool between the ages of two through five years old..

Preschools are different from your traditional daycare in that their emphasis is learning and development rather than enabling parents to work or pursue other activities. In addition to being called preschool, these programs are known by other names, including child care, day care, and nursery school. They vary widely in their setting, format, and educational requirements. Preschools may meet all-day or half-day, either every day or just a few days per week. They could be sponsored by a church, operate as an independent non-profit, or run for profit.

They may be part of the public school system or part of the Federal Head Start program. Before 1960, the education of young children was the responsibility of families within the home. As of 2004, most young children in the United States spend some of their days apart from their parents. Most children attended some sort program like Headstart, Daycare or VPK prior to kindergarten. The enrollment rate for four-year-olds in 2001 was almost the same as the enrollment rate for five-year-olds in 1970. There are several factors that influence this dramatic change.

One factor being a rise in the numbers of mothers working outside of the home, a decline in the size of families which leads more parents to turn to preschools as a social outlet for their children, and a desire to give children a head start academically. The higher the income and educational level of the parents, it is more likely that their child will attend preschool. As the years go by, we will see an increase of children attending preschool because of the substantial increase of governmental support for programs targeting children in low-income households.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, the types of teaching activities and classroom emphases that contribute to a high-quality early education for children include the opportunities to learn persistence when working at tasks, direction following, and good listening skills, focus on language and literacy skills, as well as interactive book reading, emphasis on teaching children problem-solving skills and opportunities for preschoolers to engage in music and art. The greatest academic and social progress seen in preschools is in children from deprived backgrounds.

Most children in preschool are not disadvantaged, and some researchers believe the same gains of attending preschool can be done at home by providing them educational toys, games, movies and books for the child. In some preschools, the ability of groups might mean that children will not receive the one on one attention they require. This is a major risk if the preschool does not follow the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s recommended teacher-to-child ratio of no more than ten preschoolers per staff member.

One-on-one instruction is an advantage parents will not likely find in any preschool. There are other opportunities for playing with other children that exist in churches, clubs, and other sports, where the child can learn social skills. Some believe that what children need most is lots of playing and free time and close interaction with their parents something that may be affected if the child is away from home for long periods of time. Another disadvantage is that some children experience acute separation anxiety, which indicates that they are not yet ready to make the transition to the environment of preschool.

Many programs also expect the child to be toilet-trained , which is a milestone that not all children have at the preschool age. Parents considering sending their child to preschool should investigate several different ones and consider many factors before choosing one. Parents should also realize that in spite of the potential advantages that preschool may have, preschool may not be for every child. Parents can also find and research alternative ways of introducing their child to early academic skills and social activities.