There are many important decisions we make as parents. One of the first really important decisions we make is about school. It used to be that the decisions we made about school took place when children entered grade school. We had the opportunity to choose between public, private, parochial, or even to homeschool. However, it seems that (in the United States at least) we are now pushing our children to start their education earlier and earlier. Gone are the days of preschool being about fingerpainting and playing ring around the rosy. With standardized testing beginning as early as Kindergarten, there's no time to be wasted. Our children are being pushed to learn their ABC's and 123's so that they will be fully ready to learn to read in Kindergarten. Today, I am sharing the top reasons that we are choosing a play-based preschool for our children.
School is Forever
Once children start school, they don't stop until they're adults. The play-based part of their childhood is over. I want my children to hold on to that for as long as possible! Heck, some days I'd love to go back and relive some of my childhood moments! It reminds me of when I was 14 and so anxious to get a job. I have always been an independent soul and wanted more than anything to have my own job and earn my own money. My mom tried to convince me otherwise and told me that once I started working I would be working forever.
Kindergarten Is Academic Heavy
In my time spent teaching elementary school music, I was shocked by how academic heavy the primary grades were, even in Kindergarten. There were standardized tests, homework, and a lot of academic work during the day. Kindergarten in the state we live in is also full day, 5 days a week. I have no doubt in my mind that my children will be solid in their learning and ready for first grade after a year of Kindergarten. I want them to enjoy preschool as their last full year of play.
Children Learn Best Through Play
There are many studies that show us that children do indeed learn best while they are playing. It is the simplest way for their brains to process information. Many European countries realize this and don't start formal academics until the age of 6 or even 7.
Pushing Academia Too Early Can Cause Children to Lose Interest
Our son, Theo, is currently 4 and he absolutely LOVES to learn. It's fun for him and I don't want anything to take away from that. I'm constantly amazed at the new things his little brain is absorbing, all through play. His current love is numbers and time. Just a few days ago, at 9:49, he told me that in 11 minutes it would be 10:00. I mean, if that's not a great example of math skills learned through playing, I don't know what is!
Test Scores Aren't Important in Preschool
Research has shown that children enrolled in academic-based preschools do actually perform higher on standardized testing... in Kindergarten only. By the First Grade, that gap has closed. It is similar to a child learning to walk at 12 months vs 18 months. They'll both have the same soccer playing ability at the age of 5. The child who learned to walk 6 months earlier won't have a step up in the long run. We are so intent on pushing our children to get ahead, when the reality is, they will only be ahead for a short period of time until the rest of their peers catch up.
Social Skills Through Associative Play
Babies and toddlers participate in parallel play, meaning they play next to each other but don't actually interact. Associative play (when children actually play together) doesn't occur until age 3, at the earliest. If your child begins preschool at the age of 3, it will be the first time they play with other children by interacting and have the opportunity to develop real friendships. This is when they will learn the importance of sharing and taking turns. It's crucial that children have the opportunity to experience this, and they will definitely have that opportunity at a play-based preschool.
Making the Choice That's Best For Your Child
I told you all of the reasons why we are choosing a play-based preschool for our children. While I strongly believe in letting our children be little for as long as possible, this may not be the best choice for every family. Do your research on the schools in your area to help make your decision. Don't be fearful that if they aren't in an academic-based preschool that they won't be learning.
Caitlin is a stay at home mom to identical twin toddler girls, Josie, and Margo, and a preschool aged boy, Theo. She blogs over at Twin Mom and More about all things twinning and parenting!
The ladies of the BFBN are all blogging on the topic of Back to School today! Check out all of the posts below!
Christine Keys: 5 Thought Provoking Reasons To Boycott Preschool
Team Cartwright: 3 Little After School Questions That Have a Big Impact
Mama's Organized Chaos: 7 Practical Benefits of Preschool for the Stay at Home Mom
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: How To Maintain a Sleep Schedule Amid School Disruptions