Does your child need to go to preschool before kindergarten? Does every child need to go? What do kids need to learn before kindergarten, anyway?
I think preschool is great, but it isn’t necessary for everyone. If you are raising your child at home, and you’re reading to her, talking to her, playing with her, taking her interesting places, counting with her, doing art with her, and getting her together with other children regularly, then your child is probably fine skipping preschool and going straight to kindergarten when she’s five.
Here are some skills that will help your child be successful in K:
- speak in sentences
- recognize name
- write name (at least a few letters)
- count to 30 without mistakes
- count 10 objects accurately
- identify basic colors and shapes
- recognize at least 10 letters of the alphabet
- know at least 4 letter sounds
- draw a recognizable picture of something
- listen to a story attentively
- follow two-step directions
- know how to solve problems (he took my crayon, I forgot my lunch box, I can’t find my cubby, etc)
- be able to play cooperatively with other children
A child can get those things at home, or she can get them at preschool. It depends on the parents and what they are able to give. So if you’re a stay-at-home mom and you don’t want to send your child to preschool, then don’t.
If you’re a work-outside-the-home mom and your child goes to daycare, no worries. As long as you’ve chosen a high-quality daycare center, your child will do very well. My sons went to a wonderful Montessori daycare center, and they arrived at kindergarten way ahead academically. Your child will pick up what she needs in the preschool room, and will be ready for K emotionally, socially, and academically.
As for universal preschool, I do think we need it. Not to make all children go, but to provide it to the children who need it most, who otherwise will arrive at kindergarten already far, far behind. Preschool is critical for those children.
Some of them are my students, and it feels like an honor to be their teacher.