If you have a child 2 years old or younger in your household, then you’re probably beginning to have conversations about pre-school. Most preschool programs are for children ages 3-5 and are meant to be a precursor to kindergarten.
You may be questioning the benefits of preschool. As a toddler, your child is likely still very attached to mom and dad (and you to them!). You may not see the value in disrupting their everyday routine, especially if you foresee the transition to preschool being difficult.
But preschool isn’t just designed to give parents a break and kids an opportunity to play. Enrolling your toddler in preschool comes with many benefits, some of which will serve your child well into the future. Below, we explore the main benefits of preschool to help you decide if it’s right for your toddler.
Preschool Teaches Kids To Follow Directions
At 2 years old, your child is just beginning to learn how to follow directions and the importance of rules. Preschool is an opportunity for them to learn these important lessons outside the home.
They’ll quickly learn to follow their teacher’s instructions as well as the importance of this guidance, which will help reinforce positive behaviors for life. It can also take the pressure off parents struggling to get a fussy toddler to follow directions since they’ll have the support of the preschool staff.
Preschool encourages social development
Children begin to develop the ability to pick up on the emotional state of other people (and themselves) in their first three years of life, California’s Department of Education explains. It’s important during this period that they’re exposed to as many new experiences and people as possible to support this development.
Preschool is an excellent opportunity for toddlers to work on their social and emotional development. Being in a situation with other children similar in age, It’ll help your child work on skills like sharing, empathy, awareness, confidence, and conflict resolution. It can also Teach them about social norms and resisting negative social pressures.
These skills don’t develop on their own, and they take time. If your child has little exposure to other kids, it can hinder their social and emotional development. This is especially true for only children. But preschool can give them an advantage by helping them work on these skills on a daily basis.
Preschool Benefits Gross & Fine Motor Skills
Preschool can also help your toddler develop their gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are those involving large muscle movements, such as walking and jumping. Conversely, fine motor skills are actions that the smaller muscles, like grabbing an object.
Children begin developing these skills in infancy, and it lasts throughout childhood. But practice makes perfect – the more opportunity your child has to practice their motor skills, the stronger they’ll be.
Kids develop motor skills through a variety of activities, like crafts and playing outdoors. At preschool, your toddler will be exposed to a variety of games and activities that are not only fun but important in helping develop their motor skills, giving you another reason to enroll your child.
Preschool Helps Keep Kids Active
When in preschool, children have more opportunities to be active. Generally, teachers plan 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity for the kids in their care to ensure they’re getting movement. This may involve going outside, going to a local park, or even doing something active indoors.
Even if your toddler is playing with another child, they’re likely going to be more active than if they were playing by themselves at home.
If your toddler is stuck at home all day, there’s more opportunity for screen time and other activities that don’t move their body, which isn’t good for their mental or physical health. But enrolling your child in preschool ensures they’ll get a bit of movement, aside from what you already do together as a family.
Preschool Allows For Easier Transition To Kindergarten
Your toddler may be a few years away from kindergarten but putting them in preschool is a good way to begin the transition. It allows your child to get used to the typical school routine – drop-offs in the morning, navigating the classroom setting and being away from the familiarity of home.
It can also teach them valuable lessons they’ll also hear in kindergarten, like washing their hands before a snack and putting items in their cubby.
You’re less likely to be met with resistance or temper tantrums when sending your child to kindergarten if they’re already used to preschool, even if the program wasn’t full-time.
addition, it can also make the transition easier for parents. It can be surprisingly emotional to say goodbye to your child during the day when they start kindergarten. Many parents aren’t prepared for the bittersweet feeling. But if your child has been in preschool, you’ll already be used to the routine.
Preschool Gives Kids A Head Start On Education
It’s not just that putting your toddler in preschool can make the transition to kindergarten easier. It can also give your child an educational advantage.
A report from the US Department of Education found:
- Children who received a high-quality, pre-primary education are more likely to have strong academic and social-emotional skills compared to those who didn’t.
- Kids who went through preschool were less likely to need special education services or need to repeat a grade.
- Preschool increases the likelihood of graduating from high school, attending college, and succeeding in one’s chosen profession.
The takeaway is that if your child skipped out on pre-school, they may have to play ‘catch-up’ to get to the same educational level as other kids in their kindergarten class. But putting them in pre-school contributions to educational equality.
Preschool Can Save Parents Money
Finally, some parents are leery of enrolling their children in preschool because of the costs associated with such programs. But research has found that preschool can actually save families money in the long run.
As Rasmussen Education points out, Preschool is often a cheaper alternative to daycare. While the average daycare in the US costs $760 per month, many areas offer free or low-cost preschools that are publicly funded. You may qualify for certain programs (like Head Start) if you make below a certain income.
If you need some form of childcare, preschool may be a less expensive option than daycare. Coupled with the other benefits discussed on this list, there are clearly plenty of reasons to put your toddler in pre-school.
Sources: CDE, Pathways, Rasmussen, Pregnancy, Birth, & Baby, US Department of Education,
I Fell While Pregnant – What Do I Do Next?