Preschool is a time of structured learning, usually for children between the ages of 3-5. It is designed to help children who are ready to begin learning beyond the basics of being a toddler when they are not yet ready for a formal kindergarten program.
A good preschool program promotes child development in numerous ways, creating a foundation for the child which will help them in future learning activities. Although there are several different learning philosophies employed in preschool programs, most follow the same type of daily structure.
A preschool operates for shorter hours than a formal schooling program. They offer time off for holidays, breaks in the regular school schedule, and over the summer. Teachers working in a preschool must be licensed. Some may be required to have early childhood education training or certification.
Here are the pros and cons of preschool programming to consider.
List of the Pros of Preschool
1. It creates a learning environment away from home.
Children do learn effectively at home. It can be fun to experiment with different things in an environment that is familiar. At the same time, a preschool offers a formalized learning environment which is difficult to replicate at home. That is because a preschool is based off a provided curriculum, which allows a child to learn basic skills they’ll need while learning the basics of social interactions with others their age at the same time.
2. It creates exploration opportunities.
Home-based learning programs tend to involve the basics of living: how to dress, how to eat, and how to be safe. A preschool program provides the same opportunities while providing access to advanced learning options as well. Many preschools offer exploration opportunities which help young kids learn reading concepts, writing concepts, and basic facts in areas they find interesting. They sing songs, create art, and even go on field trips together.
3. It is a place where friendships are formed.
Having a friend is an important part of the social development of a child. Young children make friends very easily with one another, which creates a skill they can use later on in life. Deep friendships can form at a preschool because the kids are often together all the time, learning and playing, without the same levels of parental interference that might come when spending time at a friend’s house.
4. It helps kids learn how to resolve conflicts.
Conflicts are something that adults tend to proactively prevent when managing the relationships of their children. In a preschool environment, there are opportunities for children to learn how to resolve issues of conflict in a safe environment. The teachers of the preschool can supervise the children as they practice interactions with their peers. Many kids can resolve their own conflicts in a fair way, without bullying, if they are given the chance to do so. That is one of the biggest advantages a preschool is able to provide.
5. It forms new relationships with adults who can be trusted.
Every parent should perform their due diligence before choosing a preschool. Every preschool should perform their due diligence when hiring teachers or support staff. Although there is always the possibility of having someone with ill intent slip through the safety systems that preschools set up, a preschool is usually an opportunity where a child can learn how to build a relationship with other trusted adults. This learning process helps children be able to express their feelings more often, develop patience, and explore who they are as a person.
6. It teaches respect for authority figures.
Authority figures are people with whom we must interact throughout our entire lives. Even as adults, there are authority figures in our lives, such as a President or Prime Minister, who earn a certain level of respect for the position they hold. Preschool teaches children to learn how to respect this position while also learning how to distinguish their own definitions of what is right and what is wrong.
7. It offers new experiences for children to enjoy.
Preschools have wide-ranging access throughout their community. You’ll find preschool teachers taking children to police stations, fire stations, and different events in town throughout the year. Kids might get to ride in a fire truck with the lights and sirens on. They might be able to learn how to play the piano. Some preschools might teach physical activities, such as Yoga or gymnastics. These experiences are often activities that most parents would be unable to provide on their own at home, which helps the child continue their path of development.
List of the Cons of Preschool
1. It creates a difficult schedule for some children.
Preschools are often inflexible with their schedules. They may only have certain days, or even certain hours, where there is availability for a child. That can make it difficult for parents to create a schedule with their own responsibilities which allows them to take their child to the school. If a family is unable to meet the scheduling requirements that a preschool may have, then the spot may not be awarded to that child, even if every other requirement can be met by the household.
2. It is not cheap.
There are preschools which offer scholarships or free spots to certain families who may have monetary issues which may exclude their children from attending. Most preschools, however, have a set tuition rate which families must pay for their children to be accepted into the program. The average cost of a preschool depends on where a family happens to live. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the average cost range in the United States is $372 to $1,100 per month. For some families, it would be cheaper to hire a babysitter or a nanny instead of enrolling a child into the program.
3. It offers fees outside of the tuition costs.
If a family is paying $1,100 per month for their child to attend preschool, then the tuition costs could be more than what a college student would pay. Like college students, parents of preschoolers have additional fees that they must pay on top of the tuition cost. There are security deposits, school supplies, art supplies, registration fees, and field trips that all have added costs to them. In high-cost areas, it is not unusual to see some families paying $20,000 or more per year, per child, for preschool.
4. It exposes children to more illnesses.
When you have children gathering together in one location, they tend to get sick more often. Kids who are at home, on their own, tend to be more sensitive to this effect than kids which come from larger families. The average student in the United States is out sick about 5 days per year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Younger students tend to be out sick more often than older students. In a study of kindergartners versus older children, the 5-year-olds developed 5 additional colds per year. For parents, that means taking more sick days from work.
5. It can create episodes of separation anxiety.
Until children get used to the idea of their parents leaving while they go to school, the drop-offs at a preschool can be challenging for the parents and the children. Going to preschool can be a big change for some kids, especially if they are starting at the age of 3. The child is unsure about the new adults at the school. They may be unsure of how to interact with children their age. At the same time, parents tend to feel guilty about leaving their child when there is a negative reaction to the experience.
6. It requires some creativity for meal preparation.
Most preschools will not feed the children in their care. The expectation is that the parents bring a lunch for the child. Many preschools will not heat a lunch either. Some may not even have the capacity to do so, even they were willing to do it. That means you’ve got to pack a lunch creatively, providing a healthy sandwich, fruits, vegetables, and something to drink which won’t cause the child to erupt into tantrums when it is time to eat.
7. It may require a child to be potty-trained before attending.
Some preschools will not allow children to attend if they have not yet been potty-trained. Others may allow enrollment, requiring that the parents provide a bag of supplies with the child, such as pull-up diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes in case an accident happens. A preschool might reserve the right to tell parents their child cannot attend on days when these items are not available.
The pros and cons of preschool offer children a chance to experience a school-like environment while they learn important life skills. For many parents, the issue of attending a preschool is one of cost. If no publicly-funded preschools are available to them, then a child may not be able to attend because there isn’t enough money to do so.