In all the chaos surrounding back-to-school decisions, skipping preschool for kids seems one of the easiest. While it’s true that formal, structured preschool is probably easier to replace than, say, 8th-grade pre-algebra, preschool does involve lots of “pre” skills that are really important and that kids can definitely learn at home.
The title of a July article says much: New Study Reveals ‘Devastating learning Loss’ for Youngest Children, Showing That Preschool Participation Has Fallen by Half During Pandemic—and May Not Improve in the Fall.” It’s by Linda Jacobson, senior writer for The 74, which describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America.” (Its website name, the74milliong.org, refers to “America’s 74 million children under the age of 18.”)
The value of preschool has a variety of measures. For example, a Vox article by Kelsey Paige two years ago titled, “Early Childhood Education Yields Big Benefits—Just Not the Ones You Think,” says there is a “sizable body of research” suggesting that 3- and 4-years olds who go to intensive early ed programs “don’t really come out ahead in terms of academic abilities” and that by second grade, any advantages are undetectable.
However--and it’s a huge however—the article says, “there’s an equally substantive body of research suggesting that early childhood education produces a profound, lifelong advantage.” They report that “One study, with a follow-up when students were in their mid-30s found that thy were likelier to have eventually attended and completed college.”
Again, though, education is by no means limited to a classroom. It’s the skills-academic and otherwise-which are imparted that are key. While this particular article concludes that “Early childhood education helps because it’s reliable daycare,” other sources frame it more specifically in terms of non-academic skills. One, a post in the Grow blog from WebMD titled “4- to 5-Year-Olds: Developmental Milestones,” says that kids at this age “are starting to understand about other people’s feelings,” adding that “Your 4- to 5-year-old should be better able to work through conflicts and control his or her emotions.” Sharing, taking turns, and obeying rules much of the time are some preschool behavioral expectations.
Obviously, in addition to pre-math and pre-reading the term preschool suggests getting ready for school success, including learning to be a student, whether involving fine motor skills or playing nicely with others. The Stay at Home Educator newsletter site, hosted by a mom of 5, sums it up well in saying, “From learning to cut with scissors or hold a pencil to learning to share, take turns, and problem solve, these are developmental skills for preschoolers.”
She adds that “The early years are the time to build a strong foundation in all developmental areas.” She goes on to list the “five domains of development”: cognitive, physical, social emotional, language, and self-help/adaptive. She says that last one includes “self-help skills needed for daily living” such as dressing, brushing teeth and hair, feeding oneself, and toileting and washing.
Mom, dad, and older siblings help teach, shape, and model these tasks including good manners and appropriate “group” behavior. But anyone can benefit from expert resources to help preschoolers get ready for reading, writing, and numbers, as well as developing fine motor skills. For example, School Zone’s Big Preschool Workbook is a gigantic, 320-page book of creative, colorful activities will make learning feel like play. An A+ adventure unfolds, as kids encounter sensational squares and rocking rectangles, a giant newt reading the newspaper and a dinosaur playing the drums. Bold, bright colors and illustrations ease little ones into learning without feeling overwhelmed. Perforated pages are great for individual worksheets, and the book comes with a completion certificate for proudly displaying.
For a slightly different approach, with the same ease of individual worksheets, the Fun and Games Preschool Workbook is packed with a challenging variety of mazes, hidden pictures, and dot-to-dot puzzles that will keep kids entertained—and learning--for countless hours. It’s a great take-along book for banishing boredom during long car rides or rainy days.
Parents looking for a high-quality online learning program that can create a “classroom” anywhere, anytime there is wi-fi, need look no further than Anywhere Teacher. It has over 2,000 learning activities including educational videos, games, flash cards, books, songs, interactive worksheets, writables and printables covering the essential skills in pre-math and pre-reading; they also touch on many other subject areas such as social emotional skills, science, and creativity.
It offers a Guided Preschool Learning Path that helps reassure parents kids are learning what they need to know in the order they need to know it, but little ones can also freely explore Anywhere Teacher to their heart’s content.
Quite literally, Anywhere Teacher helps preschoolers step on to and follow a path to success.