Your Child Does Not Need Preschool! 4 Things You Need to Understand Before Enrolling Your Child In Preschool.

4 things you don't know about preschool

Yup, you heard that right this teacher-mom is telling you your child does NOT need preschool. Hear me out, don’t run away. I promise I’m not crazy. I simply have an understanding that not all preschools follow the best practices nor are they right for everyone.
Let’s jump right in; I’m going to share with you 4 things that you didn’t know about preschool.

1. It’s not that important.

There has been a trend over the last few decades of starting children earlier and earlier in preschool programs. With the advertisement for “My Baby Can Read” and Google searches for “how to teach a one year old to read” spiking, it seems that we have forgot that past generations started kindergarten having learned nothing beforehand. Childcare centers were filled with caretakers that allowed children to play and be children until they were of age to sit down and learn in a traditional setting. I’m from Pennsylvania. In PA kindergarten is not even mandatory by law. Children are not mandated to be enrolled into school until age 8.
Let’s not forget that most states have an age cut-off for students to start school. Meaning that if a child is not 5 by September 1st they are not eligible to start kindergarten in the public school system that year. So, a child born September 2nd is out of luck. Many parents have disagreed with these laws. The state continues to back this decision with evidence that says children are not mature enough to begin school until they are 5. They say children born later in the year show to not be as successful. To protect these students a cut-off was put into place. This would allow the child to be ready to put their best foot forward the next year. Considering this, why are we rushing to put our children in preschool programs, when the state says they aren’t even ready to start school until they are 5. They are going to be learning ABCs and 123's no matter what their education background is, once they get to kindergarten.

2. Your Child Should be Learning to Play NOT Read.

Choosing between play and learning is a thing of the past. Parents seem to often get it wrong. They think the most important thing their child should be doing in that expensive preschool program is learning to read and count. But research has shown that children develop more complex vocabularies and are able to better understand math concepts when they learn the information through play. So, while it may be important to learn these concepts children need to learn how to play first. They should be given all the time they need to do so because studies have also shown that early readers do not stay ahead of the game. It has been found that a 3-year-old who learns to read does not typically stay ahead of his peers. Once a child who has no formal education background or early learning experience starts kindergarten, their brains are quick to catch up. They are right on track with other children. By third grade, teachers can not tell which students began reading early. Most preschool programs (especially ones considered “high-quality”) are forcing sight words and flash cards on children and the experience is no longer about exploring and having fun. Why rush a child?

3. Preschool is about Character Building. 

This is the time to develop a child’s social and emotional skills. They should be learning self-control; how to wait, focus and control their impulses. This is the time children learn to contribute, compromise and share. They should be gaining confidence and a sense of self. Manners and expected society behaviors should be a main focus. Children at this age should be learning how to behave in certain situations and solving their own problems. This is when children should be fostering a love for learning. The bulk of their time should be spent exploring life and learning along the way. Good teachers should have a multitude of games and songs help to learn all of these skills. Teachers should know how to set up role-playing scenarios to aid in this learning process. Research found that children who go to preschool are more likely to do better in grade school because they are able to learn these skills. That’s simply because children are more likely to be directly taught these behaviors in school. It doesn’t mean that it’s the only way a child will learn these skills. Parents can foster these skills at home as well once they become aware of what their child should be learning.

4. You Can Do Preschool at Home.

Things to consider if your considering homeschooling. Often times, experts will say that a child will not be prepared for kindergarten if they do not go to preschool because they will not be socially ready. I think this would only be applied to a child who is not around children at all or is not adequately prepared by the parents. Parents can prepare their child socially by teaching them to compromise and what to do when feeling certain emotions. The best part of homeschooling is it’s easy to tailor lessons and experiences to your child’s needs. While also giving your child the best individualized attention. Sarah from Teaching My Kiddos (I still say she is the most amazing mom ever) posts about how her son shows an emotion and then she plans a lesson to teach him how to identify that emotion, express it and how to handle it. These are the most important things any person needs to learn. And preschool is the time to learn it. It is also the time to teach children how to learn, how to find the answers to their questions and how to explore. These are all things that can be done with out a “high-quality” preschool program.

Bottom Line

There are many benefits to preschool programs. Just as there are benefits to early reading. It allows your child to be ahead. It allows you to catch early problems and implement any early intervention that may be needed. It gives a child who may have struggled at age 5 to read a head start so they are capable of staying on level. But it could turn away a child who is pushed too early. Keep in mind that kindergarten starts at age 5 or 6 for a reason. Preschool should be about exploring and having fun through interactions and games. As much as we know children should learn through play, it seems that this is often forgotten. We are forcing our children to learn things such as letters and math before they are ready. A simple month wait could make all the difference.
Take a look at why Susie from decided to hold her son back from kindergarten for a year. She decided to wait until he was 6. She is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom and says she knew from the moment her child was born she was going to have him on a path not to begin school until he was 6. As the creator of Playing Preschool (an amazing homeschool preschool curriculum) I was surprised with her decision. However, one of her points lead me to understand that it’s not important to rush your children into something they are not developmentally ready for. I’ve concluded that ultimately, it’s just not fair. As you make choices for your family always keep in mind that the absolute best decision someone can make for their family could be the absolute worst decision you make. With that, take the time to evaluate your family’s situation and decide what is best for you. Then take action on how you educate your early learner.