Who needs preschool?

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.

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7 thoughts on “Who needs preschool?

  1. I completely with you. I think that preschool is a great place for working parents to send their children in order for them to be fully prepared for kindergarten. However, I don’t think that you should be required to send your child to preschool. There are several parents who can teach their children all the things that they will learn in preschool right from the comfort of their own home. However, my only concern is that the children won’t be socialized as much as the children that do attend preschool. At preschool, children are interacting with their peers every day of the week, and often times on the weekends as well. If stay-at-home parents involve their children in community activities, such as swimming lessons, a reading club at the public library, or even summer camp, I believe that the children will be socialized appropriately. I would just be concerned that they would not be up to par with the other children who spent every day with other children. I really enjoyed your blog. I don’t think that some people realize that preschool just might not be necessary.

  2. Thanks, Callye. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. As for socialization, you’re right, it’s important, and as long as parents are making sure their children have opportunities to be around other kids, they’ll be fine.

    Reading your comment made me think of something new, which is that middle- and upper-middle class parents of my generation tend to hover a bit. We can become “helicopter” parents if we’re not careful. Sending our children to daycare or preschool can actually be good for us as parents, not just good for our little ones.

    When I worked in daycare before I became a parent, I learned so much about small children that had never occurred to me before. Toddlers can learn how to wash their own hands? And throw away their own paper towels? No way! I was astounded. My own husband, once we had a little one at home, would become wedded to a routine until I would say, you know what, sweetie, it’s time to let him do that for himself.

    A few years ago I had a student whose mother spoon-fed (!) him yogurt at a class party, and whose father carried (!!) him around the room at our next party. I called them up and gently pointed out that their son was not only no longer a baby, in our classroom, he was an independent and highly capable big boy. They were chagrined, but to give them credit, they started making changes right away, and it was great for their son.

    Preschool can be worthwhile just for the things the parents learn from the teachers!

  3. My nephew just graduated from a preschool program, and, not that I think that it is “necessary,” but it was definitely a good experience for him. As a busy mom, my sister was already having a hard time keeping up with all of the specific educational needs of the kids, and my nephew was able to make friends, interact with another adult authority and learn in a goal-based way. Here where I live, in Panama, I think that preschool is most definitely a necessary thing because most kids are growing up with the goal of being bilingual and fully fluent in both Spanish and English. Spanish-speakers put their kids in preschool to give them a jump on English and English-speakers put their kids in preschool to give them a jump on Spanish.

  4. I’m all for preschool and I think most, if not all children should attend. I’m also for standards that produce quality education. I’m also for getting paid what I’m worth. Unfortunately too many people can’t live with the pay, and so great teachers are lost, and no matter how many standards are out there, if they don’t pay for great teachers, there won’t be as great a chance for these children to get a quality preschool education.

    Fortunately, our family can afford my salary, because my husband has a steady, well-paying job. This may change in the future. I don’t want to stop teaching preschool, I love it. But it may come a point where I can’t afford to teach.

    Okay, getting off my soapbox now. UGH… just feeling a tad bit frustrated.

    Mrs. V

  5. I was thinking about preschool teacher salaries just yesterday. They STINK. And they are insulting to professionals like you. Because I work for a school district, my salary puts me in the ranks of the middle class; most daycare and preschool teachers’ salaries put them squarely in the category of working poor. And teaching the young ones is one of the most important jobs in education! I’ll get on the soapbox with you; I think it’s a scandal.

  6. Great common sense discussion of the “whys” of preschool. I agree that not every child needs preschool but I believe every child deserves the option. Otherwise we make a value judgment, that only middle class and rich families can afford to prepare kids for school. Poor families aren’t capable of preparing kids for school. This logic is absolutely false. Every parent wants the best for their kid and preschool is a way to make that happen.

  7. Pingback: The Carnival of Education, #180

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