The Connection Between Preschool and Social Skill Development

how to find a preschoolFrom 1990 to 2013, the percentages of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased by 9% and 12% respectively. That means that more families are realizing how big an effect local preschool programs can have on their children’s grade school readiness. It’s certainly true that academic preschool activities can allow children to reach higher levels of achievement in terms of classroom learning, but parents should also take other benefits of preschool into account. Case in point: the connection between preschool enrollment and the development of social skills.

Sharing, Cooperation, and Role-Playing
Very young children will engage in what’s referred to as “parallel play,” wherein they’ll play beside other children without much interaction. In preschool, children start to transition into interactive play, allowing them to engage with other children. This type of play often involves make-believe scenarios, which lets them explore grown-up situations like teaching, shopping, playing house, and more.

This is about so much more than playing pretend, though. In these scenarios, children start to understand sharing, cooperation, and acceptable behavior. Whether this happens through supervised exploration or through mimicry, children develop the foundation for skills on which they’ll rely throughout their lives.

Language: Speaking and Listening
Once you learn how to find a preschool for your family and enroll your child, it’s likely that your son or daughter will start utilizing their language skills more and more. Talking aloud to other children or teachers and learning how to use words to direct actions and express feelings will help quite a bit in this regard. Preschoolers also learn about the hallmarks of listening in class and how important it is to show respect, sit quietly, raise their hand, and wait for their turn to speak. Children start to develop awareness about the words they use and the power those words hold, too.

Self-Esteem and Emotional Expression
An increased sense of independence fosters self-esteem. When children establish and accomplish their own tasks, their self-confidence will start to grow. The same goes for being able to express their emotions and sense of creativity, to follow rules and routines, and to take on classroom responsibilities. It’s important that both parents and teachers take the time to recognize these efforts and accomplishments, as the praise preschoolers receive will reinforce their learning.

Knowing how to find a preschool can be difficult, but there’s so much your children will have to look forward to once you decide — including the development of these social skills.

Half Day Vs. Full Day Preschool Programs: Which Is Better For Your Child?

half day preschoolThere are numerous factors to consider when choosing a preschool for your family. The proximity to your home and work, the cost, the reputation of the facility, and curriculum philosophy will all likely come into play when making this decision — but your family may also need to take a preschool’s schedule into account.

Whether you and your significant other both work full-time or you’re simply trying to determine what kind of routine would suit your family best, you may have to weigh the pros and cons of a half day preschool versus a full day preschool. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong here; much of this decision will depend on the needs of your child and of your family. In this post, we’ll talk a bit more about full day and half day preschool programs to help you during this process.

Full Day Preschool May Improve Grade School Readiness
In terms of whether most families favored half day or full day programs, it’s currently at about an even split. Of the three- to five-year-olds who were enrolled in preschool in 2015, about 51% attended full day programs. In some cases, those who attend preschool for the entire day may be in a better position to develop their young minds.

According to select studies that have delved into this topic, data shows that full day preschool programs can help children make major academic gains. This is particularly true when the students in question have underdeveloped literacy, math, and vocabulary skills. One study found that approximately 80% of children who attended full day preschool were at or above national school readiness norms, while approximately 58% of children in half day preschool programs were at or above these levels.

Furthermore, an Ontario-based study from the early 2000s found that full day preschool programs had positive impacts on students’ language and academic learning, as well as parental satisfaction with the programs themselves.

But Half Day Preschool May Be Better For Some Families
Ultimately, the right choice here depends on your child’s unique traits and your own parenting values. Many children fare wonderfully in full day preschool programs. Even if the initial adjustment period is difficult, lots of students flourish with this type of routine. But what works perfectly for one family may not be ideal for another. For parents who are able and want to spend more time with their children during the workweek, or for children who may have a much more difficult time adjusting to that much time away from home, a half day program will still provide a high-quality education.

Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important to know that your child will be able to reap the benefits of preschool programs. Before you begin your search, discuss whether you feel a full day setup will benefit both parents and child or whether you want to seek out half day programs. That way, you’ll prioritize this schedule from the get-go and can focus in on programs that truly fit your family’s criteria.

Preparing Your Twins for Preschool: Tips for Parents

local preschool programFrom 1990 to 2013, the percentage of three- to five-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs like preschool increased from 59% to 65%. Clearly, most parents today understand the importance of enrolling their children in preschool. While finding the right preschool program for one child can be tough, trying to choose the right local preschool program for two students can be an even bigger challenge. If you’re a parent of twins, you may run into twice the difficulty when it comes to deciding on a preschool and preparing your children for this change. We hope the tips below will help make the transition a bit easier for your whole family.

  • Start looking early
    Although it’s not guaranteed that a school with a long waiting list will definitively offer a high-quality education, it’s likely that a very popular preschool is popular for a reason. When you need to enroll two children in school, you can’t take your chances about securing these spots. Therefore, it’s important that you start your search early (ideally, about a year ahead of time at least) and narrow down the choices early on. Take tours, talk to staff members, and see whether you feel your children will do well in these environments. Keep in mind that if you live in an urban area or a town in which preschool is a highly competitive enterprise, you’ll need to give yourself some extra wiggle room in case you aren’t able to get them in the first year.
  • Determine whether they should stick together or separate
    For parents with twins, each school year may come with the question: “should my children stay in the same classroom, or would they benefit from being separated?” There are differing philosophies when it comes to separating multiples; some people believe that separation allows each twin to flourish independently and discover their own identity, while others believe that a shyer twin might suffer without their more outgoing sibling there to balance out the partnership. Ultimately, this choice is totally personal and should be determined by the parents. If it’s important to your twins’ experience that they be separated, you’ll want to choose a local preschool program that can accommodate your wishes. If you want your children to stay together, you should communicate that to school staff. You’ll want to re-evaluate this decision each year, and as your children mature, you can include them in the conversation.
  • Sign up for community programs
    Preschool can provide your children with grade school readiness, but it’s your job to make sure your children are ready for preschool. Consider signing your children up for some community programs (like ones you’ll find at your public library, museums, or summer camps). These programs can provide them with some experience that will come in handy once preschool starts, like quietly sitting and listening, crafting, and socializing. Twins are used to being physically close to one another. They may need to learn more about how they should behave with other children and with their teachers. While their special bond can’t be broken, they’ll come to understand that it’s unique to them.

Finding a reputable and local preschool program for your children can feel overwhelming, but the solution might be directly in front of you. To find out more about our school and how your children can benefit from it, contact us today.

What Matters When Picking A Preschool

local preschool programFor many parents, picking a local preschool program is one of the first important decisions they’ll make in terms of their child’s education. Not only can attending preschool have a direct effect on grade school readiness for all, but 60% of at-risk children were found to be more likely not to go to college if they didn’t get a head-start with a high-quality education in preschool. Even if you know attending preschool matters, you may not know which factors mean the most when selecting your program. Which are the most important things to look for in a preschool? We’ll explore them here.

  • Teaching philosophy
    There are all kinds of preschools out there, ranging from academically challenging to play-based. Each has their merits, and there’s likely a preschool that will fit in quite nicely with your parenting style and desires for your child’s education. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, but it’s important that you choose a school with a philosophy that’s reflective of your own. Even if a particular school is highly ranked and respected, it may not be the right fit for your family if its emphasis doesn’t line up with yours.
  • Scheduling and routines
    Your own work constraints may determine the kind of preschool that works best for your child. If you don’t have a flexible schedule of your own, a half-day preschool might present more of a burden on your family in several ways. However, if you have some flexibility with your job, that sort of schedule may be the best way for your child to receive a good education without sacrificing family time. You’ll also want to get a good feel for what your child’s day will look like once they’re at school. Children will typically benefit from having a specific daily routine, but you know your child better than anyone. If you have specific concerns or questions about how a school structures their students’ day, be sure to get clarification and assess whether it will serve your child well.
  • Class size
    There are several benefits to having lower child-to-teacher ratios (or class sizes of 15 of fewer. Smaller class sizes have a positive impact on students, due to the tendency towards easier management, and better cooperative play and engagement–and a lower child-to-teacher ratio will allow for more individual attention. While these are important factors, a smaller class size will have little or no benefit without well-qualified teachers, so that should be part of your evaluation as well.

In the end, there are many things that will go into your choice of a local preschool program: the school’s central philosophy, its structure, and the quality of the teachers. It is important to keep your values and needs in mind when making your decision. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have. We’re here to help!

Signs You’ve Chosen A Safe Preschool For Your Children

how to find a preschoolKnowing how to find a preschool that aligns with your parenting style and educational requirements can be tough enough, but in today’s world, families also need to focus on safety. While we can’t always predict accidents, your local preschool program should take the initiative to provide ample protection for students. How can you tell if your child will be getting a high-quality education and be safeguarded against harm? Look for the following signs.

Your school informs you about surveillance and safety measures they take
While 70% of at-risk children are more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime if they don’t receive a good preschool education, no child should ever become a victim of a crime at school. One of the most obvious signs of school safety is that the facility shares the measures they take. When asked, school officials should be able to tell parents precisely how they protect their students. Academic preschool programs should limit premises access and monitor exterior doors and the perimeter. They should also monitor the interior of the school.

It’s not just about keeping dangers out of the school. Classrooms should be childproofed and follow proper safety procedures, which you may be able to pick out from a facility visit. Of course, your school should have fire alarms and fire doors in every room. You’ll want to ask about fire drills and how children are educated in regard to safety to make sure staff members are being proactive with students.

The staff members are highly trained and remain there long-term
You may not initially consider turnover as a factor when you’re figuring out how to find a preschool for your child, but it can be more telling than you realize. A high level of turnover usually signals some internal issues with staff retention or hiring. If teachers are under-qualified or are unhappy, end up leaving after a relatively short time. In general, look for a preschool that has higher retention rates, as this usually means more personal investment from the teachers and better bonding with the students.

In addition, teachers and staff members should be trained in first aid and CPR. The facility should meet licensing standards, and staff members should be eager to provide you with any certification or copies of documents you may need.

The environment reflects school policies and is a clean, healthy place
Overall, the school should practice what it preaches. Classrooms should be clean and free of hazards, while staff members should encourage hand-washing and other cleanliness habits. There should be reminders of these practices throughout the facility to ensure lifelong healthy practices. Above all else, the school’s policies and practices should line up. Visiting the school before you enroll your child can give you an excellent idea of what you can expect as a parent.

Knowing how to find a preschool can be a real challenge for any family. In your quest to find an academic-based preschool that’s right for your family, you can’t forget about safety features like these. While we all hope for the best, it’s important that schools are prepared for the worst. That way, your child will be as safe and healthy as possible throughout their time in preschool.

Does Your Preschool Have A Balanced Approach To Learning And Play?

academic preschool activitiesBetween 1990 and 2013, the percentages of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased to 42% and 68%, respectively. Clearly, finding the right preschool is a top priority for many American families. However, because approaches to early education vary so widely, it can be tough to know what kind of philosophy will serve your child best. A great preschool experience can allow a child to receive an even higher quality education later, so choosing a preschool for your child can be a high-stakes decision.

Research has found that children fare best when they are able to participate in academic preschool activities and learn through play. If you embrace a mixed philosophy — meaning that you understand the benefits of academic preschool but want to make sure your child also gets the chance to play and develop social skills with their peers — here are a few things to look for in early education programs.

  • An emphasis on literacy
    Preschoolers are not expected to know all their letters and numbers going in to preschool, but literacy is a good way to judge the academic integrity of a preschool program. Letters, words, and books should be available to children. Pre-reading skills can be developed in a multitude of ways, from traditional learning to involvement in art, story time, and crafts can support literacy and writing skills later on.
  • Periods for play and social activities
    A lot of parents fail to realize that academic preschool activities extend beyond classroom or book learning. Learning through play is just as valuable, so it’s key that parents ask about whether social learning will be part of their child’s daily routine. Play allows a child to understand sharing, compromise, language, and emotional processing, all of which are necessary for grade school readiness. Look for an academic preschool that understands play is a vital part of the learning equation.
  • Ways to incorporate math and science
    Although addition and complex experiments may not be included in preschool programs, there are ways to encourage an understanding of numbers and science early in a child’s education. Counting, arranging, and understanding spatial relationships can act as the building blocks for math, as can problem-solving and critical thinking activities. High-quality preschools will also try to capture students’ interest in the way the world works by incorporating interactive activities in science such as, basic experiments for this age group.

Finding a program that embraces your philosophies and incorporates important academic preschool activities can be a challenge, but parents also need to make sure play is included in these routines, too. During a visit, be sure to ask questions pertaining to a facility’s overall philosophy and how their activities support that philosophy. This will give you a good idea of how your child will learn and grow during their time as a student there.

Play-Based vs. Academic-Based Preschool: Which Is Better for Your Child?

benefits of academic preschoolChoosing a preschool for your child is an important decision. There are many factors to consider, which can make choosing a preschool extremely difficult. Parents need to consider things like cost, location, schedule, safety, and discipline. While there are various factors that need to be considered, the school’s philosophy and classroom methods are two of the most important.

While three-fourths of children participate in a preschool program in the United States, not all preschools approach learning the same way. There are two main types of preschools: academic-based and play-based. Let’s examine both.

Academic-Based Preschool

Academic preschool programs are considered “teacher-directed,” meaning teachers lead the children in a structured way by planning activities and then guiding the children through them. This method of preschool is designed to prepare children for kindergarten. The benefits of an academic preschool include skill development: letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. The goal is to help students get ready for kindergarten.

The majority of academic preschool activities consist of following a structured schedule by participating in activities and enhancing basic skills.

Play-Based Preschool

In a play-based preschool program, children can choose activities based on their interests. Most play-based classrooms are broken up into sections, like kitchens, science areas, and reading areas. The children are encouraged to maneuver between activities throughout the day, participating in whatever activities they are interested in at the moment.

Although it may seem like just playtime, children are enhancing social skills as well as some basic math and reading skills. The preschool teacher acts more like a facilitator than a lecturer, monitoring students’ progress through participation rather than by more formal methods.

Which is Right for Your Child?

If you find yourself worrying that a play-based classroom might be too chaotic, or not give your child the individual attention they need, then an academic preschool could be the better choice. You can find comfort in knowing that your child is in a structured setting that will allow them to develop skills at an early age. The structured learning benefits of an academic preschool will prepare your child for not only kindergarten, but a successful start to school overall. However, if you find yourself desiring the benefits of both academic- and play-based programs, there are institutions that provide both types of activities for a comprehensive experience. These schools may be harder to find, but with a little research, you should be able to find the perfect fit for your child.

Finding the right preschool means choosing a preschool that is beneficial to your child and allows them to grow in an environment that’s right for them. Please contact us today if you have questions or would like to find out more.

Common Preschool Fears And How Parents Can Help

things to look for in a preschoolThese days, finding a great preschool is a top priority for most parents. After all, the percentage of three- to five-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs like preschool, nursery school, and kindergarten rose from 59% to 65% between 1990 and 2013. But just because you’ve checked everything off your “things to look for in a preschool” list and enrolled your child in school doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth sailing.

Even if you’ve chosen from the best academic preschool programs in your area, your child may have trouble making the transition from home to school. Sometimes, these transitional troubles are caused by fears your child may be experiencing. Addressing these fears and coming up with solutions can allow your child to feel much more comfortable in school and enjoy all of the preschool education activities available to them. Below are just a couple of the fears your child might have and how you can help your child face them in a not-so-scary way.

Missing You
Both parents and children often experience separation anxiety. This is to be expected. However, there are things you can do to ease this transition and help them feel less homesick. Visits to the facility can be extremely helpful. The more they become accustomed to being there, the more likely they are to feel comfortable and happy once they’re on their own. Once school starts, make sure to keep your routine consistent. This includes maintaining short and sweet goodbyes. One of the things to look for in a preschool is a staff that understands how tough these transitions can be. Enlist help from staff members to engage your child in an activity after you say goodbye to help distract them in a positive way. You can also have your child bring a comforting item (like a small toy, blanket, personal note, or photograph) from home.

Failing to Make Friends
No matter how great your preschool is, your child might be scared that the other children will be mean to them or that they’ll have trouble making new friends. Preparation will be your best friend here, as introducing your child to their teacher ahead of time can help reduce these anxieties immensely. Confide in the teacher or staff member, letting them know of your child’s reservations. The teacher will be able to make your child feel welcome and assure them that the entire staff is on their side. Should your child be worried they won’t be able to make friends, empathy can work well here, as well: let them know that all of the other kids are just as nervous as they are. With especially shy children, giving staff members a heads-up can facilitate new friendships and opportunities for play. A caring staff is one of the top things to look for in a preschool, so they can be a great ally in this case.

It can be tough enough to find a great preprimary program, but it’s not enough to simply enroll your child in a facility that has all the best things to look for in a preschool. You’ll need to be proactive and help your child face their fears in a healthy way. For more back to school tips, look around our blog or contact us today.

What Your Child’s Preschool Teacher Wishes You Knew

high-quality educationIt’s likely you understand the importance of obtaining a high-quality education, and that this foundation starts in preschool. In fact, 60% of at-risk children were found to be more likely to not attend college if they didn’t get a high-quality education in preschool first. Academic preschool programs are now in session. It can be tough for both children and parents to adjust to this new way of life, but experienced teachers and a welcoming environment can make things go more smoothly—and if you know these preschool educator secrets, you’ll be in a better position to embrace these changes head-on.

Preschool teachers want parents to know that…

  • The transition might take longer than you think
    When your child begins preschool, you may be worried about how they’ll react to being away from you. But the truth is that the separation can be just as hard on you as it is on your child. It might be the first time you’ve been apart for any lengthy period, after all. Each child has different needs, but it’s never a good idea to drop them off and leave while their back is turned. It’s best to give them a hug and reassure them that you will be back to pick them up after a fun day at preschool and leave as soon as possible. Have patience and realize it may take many days or even several weeks for your child to get used to their new routine. Soon enough, they’ll give up the teary goodbyes and look forward to their favorite preschool education activities—but don’t expect it to happen overnight.
  • Structure and routine are essential
    When you care for your child at home, you might have some kind of loose routine, but it’s probably nowhere near as structured as what your child will experience in preschool. When your child knows what to expect on a daily basis, they’ll be in a better position to pay attention, learn, and play. It’s also the best way to ensure your child takes a nap every day. Giving them time to unwind prior to sleep is extremely important, as is creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to rest. Children are typically less likely to act out if their schedule is relatively similar every day; disruptions in their routine can result in disruptive behavior.
  • Play is just as important as traditional classroom time
    Requirements for preschool vary from place to place. It is important that the preschool you choose has an academic focus. That said, traditional classroom learning isn’t the only important aspect of preschool. Play can be just as important as planned lessons. Yes, academics do play an important role in preschool, as this time is critical for neural development and will set a child up to receive a high-quality education throughout his or her life. Children learn a lot through playing, discovering, exploring, and socializing with their peers as well. Don’t discount the concept of playtime and how much children need it in their routines.

Every preschool is different (as is every child), but these three concepts are pretty universal. They can help you pick a great preschool program and make sure that both you and your child get the most out of the experience. If you’re ever in doubt about your child’s transition or their routine at school, consult these expert tips.

Is Your Child Really Ready For Preschool? Take Our Quiz To Find Out!

daycareFall is right around the corner, which means many parents and guardians will be readying themselves and their children to head off to daycare, preschool, or another childcare arrangements. While finding the right preschool for your family can be a challenge in itself, it can also be difficult to know whether your child is actually ready to start preschool. While the percentage of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased by 9% and 12%, respectively, between 1990 and 2013, that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to know whether it’s the right time to enroll. Our quiz can help you recognize the skills your child possesses and help you decide whether this year will be the year for preschool.

How does your child react when they’re away from you?
A. They’re comfortable right away and never know I’m gone.
B. They’re upset at first, but readjust within 10 or 15 minutes.
C. They’re inconsolable until I come back to pick them up.

How well does your child listen and follow instructions?
A. They do this very well.
B. They do this sometimes or most of the time.
C. They do not do this well.

How would you describe your child’s level of potty training?
A. They are totally potty-trained.
B. They are well on their way to being potty-trained, but have the occasional accident.
C. They are not yet potty-trained and have frequent accidents.

How often does your child socialize with other kids?
A. They play with other kids frequently without incident.
B. They occasionally play with other kids but may need to work on their social skills.
C. They barely play with other children or exhibit frequent behavioral issues when they do.

Does your child know how to share, take turns, and cooperate with others?
A. Yes, and they do this often, even without prompting.
B. Yes, but they sometimes need reminding.
C. No, this is a lesson we have to review often or they are resistant to do so.

Can your child clearly communicate their needs and recite your information?
A. Yes, they can express their basic needs and they know our address, phone number, and names.
B. Yes, they can usually express their basic needs and they know at least some contact information.
C. No, they struggle to communicate these needs.

If you answered mostly As: Your child is very likely ready for daycare or preschool. Of course, you should still do your research on specific academic preschool programs before enrolling your child. Inquire with teachers to find out their requirements and whether your child’s abilities would make them a good fit.

If you answered mostly Bs: Your child may be ready to take on those preschool education activities — if not this year, then definitely next year. There may be some key areas you’ll need to consider working on at home in the meantime, like more socialization, communication, or potty training. Ultimately, you’re going to be the best judge of whether your child is ready, but it won’t hurt to talk to staff members and get a second opinion.

If you answered mostly Cs: This year may not be the year for preschool. And that’s okay! Your child might simply benefit from more time to learn these skills. Talk with preschool teachers or daycare staff members in your area and zero in on which skills are typically the most important. Usually, the ability to follow directions and social skills are highly valued. Take some time to develop these on your own and through peer interaction before signing them up for class.

Figuring out whether your child will fare well in daycare or preschool isn’t an easy task, but these important questions can illuminate the skills your child has already acquired and the areas they may need to work on before being placed in a totally new environment. And as always, your preschool of choice will be a valuable source of information that can help you make the right decision for your family.