In and out of the classroom preschool learning preps for success

Kids still need time to simply be kids. But like just about everything else in our supercharged, high-tech world, the bar keeps rising, even for preschoolers and kindergartners.

Karen Kanter, writing for Parents Magazine, in an article titled “Why Preschool Matters,” quotes Parents advisor Kathleen McCartney, Ph.D., dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, as saying, "There's increasing evidence that children gain a lot from going to preschool," adding that "At preschool, they become exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes. And, more important, they learn how to socialize--get along with other children, share, contribute to circle time."

Further expanding on the increased expectations for preschoolers, Harriet Dichter, executive director of the Delaware Office of Early Learning and a nationally recognized expert on early childhood learning, in an article titled “Preschool Trends for a Successful Start,” in an issue of MetroKids, notes that while the focus on science, engineering, technology, and math is not new,teachers are beginning to deliver STEM as early as pre-Kindergarten.”

Getting little ones started early not just in math and science, but language and reading readiness gives them a great head start, and that can certainly be accomplished outside as well as inside the classroom.

For example, the Little Scholar® tablet is uniquely designed for children in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Playful, powerful, and packed with learning, it builds readiness skills to last a lifetime. Kids will have big fun mastering math, reading, spelling, and more, with over 200 preloaded apps, videos, e-books, and songs. Also enjoy family time with Charlie & Company™, a new, interactive preschool series starring Charlie the Golden Retriever and his best friend and “Anywhere Teacher” Miss Ellie, who, along with their other friends, take off on marvelous learning adventures in real-life settings.

The apps and activities help kids recognize colors, shapes, and patterns, as they also practice counting, addition and subtraction, ABCs, uppercase and lowercase letters, telling time, counting coins, and much more. At the same time they are also expanding their vocabulary, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. They build practical skills for life and school, plus creativity and imagination soar.

To be sure, an increasing number of kids are attending preschool, even full-time. According to Child Trends Data Bank, “Among those children not yet enrolled in kindergarten, the percentage of three- to five-year-olds enrolled in full-day prekindergarten and preschool programs increased from 21 percent in 1994 to 26 percent in 2013.”

Based on findings from a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) study of early child care, Child Trends further adds that “Children who spend more hours in high-quality center-based care perform better in math and reading in the early grade of elementary school.”

However, the quality of learning matters as much--if not more--than the place where it happens. Whether a child is in a formal preschool program full-time, part-time, or not at all, home continues to be the source of many, many lessons. Choosing tools and products that best support this early learning gives kids an advantage in our amped-up, competitive world.