Last Updated on September 18, 2021.
Is preschool necessary? Parents have been asking themselves this question for years. There is no right answer, but there are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not to send your child to preschool. In this article, we will go over the pros and cons of sending your child to preschool.
What is preschool?
Preschool is an educational program for children from the ages of three to five years old. This means that preschool is not a daycare or nursery school, but rather an early learning experience designed specifically for pre-K kids. Preschool has typically been offered in public schools and as part of Head Start programs across America. It’s also been offered in church nurseries and other childcare programs.
A parent can also find a private preschool that is designed specifically for pre-K children, but typically these are more expensive than public or Head Start schools.
What is the purpose of preschool?
The purpose of preschool is to prepare a child for primary school, which typically happens around kindergarten or first grade. There are pros and cons in regards to whether or not you should send your pre-K age child to preschool.
Preschool teaches children many skills that they will need for their future, such as social and emotional development. They also learn school basics like how to stand in line, how to raise their hand, and how to share with others. They learn how to develop good habits like washing their hands after using the bathroom, picking up toys when they’re finished playing with them, and cleaning up after themselves during meals and snacks.
Many parents believe that preschool is necessary for pre-K children because it prepares them for primary school, while other parents don’t believe that preschool is necessary because their children would rather spend more time with them and play.
Pros of Preschool
Children who attend preschool:
- learn social and emotional skills
- engage with peers their age
- provides ample opportunity to play and explore
- learn how to follow directions
- learn school basics
- encourages physical development
- develop good habits, like washing hands and cleaning up after themselves
- adjust to a school environment or setting
- may benefit from early detection (and sometimes correction) of learning challenges
Cons of Preschool
Some of the disadvantages of attending preschool are:
- may lead to potty training challenges
- it can be a difficult schedule for 3 and 4-year-olds to follow
- it can be expensive
- may trigger episodes of separation anxiety
- children may be exposed to more illnesses
Is it ok to skip preschool?
It’s actually surprisingly common for parents to skip preschool and send their children straight into primary education.
Some people think that preschool isn’t educational enough since it focuses on miming and not enough on reading and writing. Others wonder whether all the playtime is necessary.
Skipping preschool is totally fine as long as kids get plenty of time to play and explore during the day. Preschool is all about learning through play.
What can I do instead of preschool?
The short answer is you should play.
If you have a backyard, it’s a perfect place to let your child play and explore. A sandbox with buckets and spades is always a hit. If not, find a nearby park or playground.
Make up songs and sing together, point out the clouds in the sky or bugs on the ground if they’re interested in them. Build a fort and crawl through it, or find some cardboard boxes and collect them into a pile to climb on.
If you need someone to watch your little one during the day, you could find a daycare center or in-home daycare that focuses on learning through play. Or you could hire a personal nanny to play with your child during the day.
Preschool vs. Daycare
Daycare, as opposed to preschool, is designed for children from the ages of six months to five years old. It is a place that you can drop off your child during the day, and they’re cared for by an adult who is there all day long.
Daycares are often broken up into age groups as well. It’s not just one large building with kids running all over the place.
Daycare does not usually include the same type of learning as preschool, but it does help with social skills and emotional development.
It is also more affordable than private preschools or tuition-based public schools.
Preschool vs. One-on-One Care
One-on-one care is another alternative to preschool. This is where a nanny or a babysitter is responsible for your toddler only. A nanny or a babysitter is not typically skilled in teaching the same type of skills that preschool teachers are. Also, your child would not benefit from the social and emotional skills of attending preschool with peers.
One-on-one care is usually less expensive than private preschools or tuition-based public schools, but it does not prepare your child for the challenges they will face when starting primary school.
One-on-one care is great, however, at providing activities that are tailored to your child’s current skill set and interests.
How to decide what’s right for your child
When you’re choosing between preschool, daycare, and one-on-one care, you need to consider what is best for your child in terms of social, emotional, and physical development.
If you’re looking to prepare them for a school setting or would like to give them the opportunity to make friends with other children their age, then preschool may be right for your family.
However, if your goal is more about providing one-on-one care for your child and giving them the opportunity to explore their interests, then one-on-one may be a better fit.
For some families, daycare is also an option if they are looking for more of a social setting where kids can play and explore.
Tips for Success at Preschool
If you’re thinking about sending your child to preschool, here are a few tips that will help them adjust and succeed:
- Explain what is going on at school ahead of time. Schedule a tour with your child if possible
- Help your toddler get organized by packing their backpack the night before with all the supplies they’ll need for the next day.
- Get your child ready in advance of their school days and bring to them all the clothes they will wear, as well as any snacks or drinks you think might be needed throughout the day.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings about leaving you: “You won’t be with me today, but I will see you at the end of the day.” Reassure them that they’ll have fun once they get there.
- Create a routine that’s consistent. Your child will be more comfortable when they know what to expect.
The Bottom Line
Preschool is a great option for some families, but it’s not for everyone. Consider the pros and cons, and what your goals are for your toddler. Whatever you choose, create a consistent routine to help your child feel confident and secure about their daily schedule.
What You Should Do Next…
Are you ready for more activities to build a rock-solid bond with your kids? Try our Connected Parent Challenge! It’s 15 Days of 15 Minute activities that are sure to improve your connection, diminish bad behavior, and create lasting memories. Plus, I’ll deliver more amazing parenting strategies to your inbox weekly (don’t worry, unsubscribe any time!).
Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.
Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.