Pre-K: Yes or No?

Growing YearsParents ask the question, “Does my child need to enroll in a Pre-K program?” The answer is dependent on your child’s specific needs. A Pre-K program certainly is appropriate for all children, whether it is implemented in a school setting, private setting, or in the home.

Your child’s Pre-K years are filled with tremendous social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development. While a Pre-K program may look like all fun and games with music, story time, dancing, and art, in reality there is an intense amount of brain development activity. Since children learn through play and creative activities, your child’s building blocks and train tracks are actually building problem solving and physics skills.

Pre-K offers an opportunity for children to learn through structured play. Your child will learn how to share and cooperate, work together and take turns, participate in group activities, follow simple directions, communicate wants and needs appropriately and develop positive self-esteem.

Pre-K children will learn the connection between letters and sounds, know some of the sounds that letters make, and recognize and name all uppercase letters and some lowercase letters, especially those in their first name. They will primitively print their first name, as well as a few words that have personal meanings to them. Songs, nursery rhymes, and tongue twisters help teach how sounds work. Books provide opportunities to explore these connections by looking at pictures together, pointing out words, and talking about what’s happening in the book.

Pre-K children will continue to learn the names colors, basic shapes, and body parts. They will learn to recognize and identify numbers one through 10, as well as memorize the order of numbers and that numbers and objects actually correspond, resulting in being able to count objects.

Pre-K children will be able to cut with scissors, develop better hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, and will learn to use pencils, paintbrushes, and glue. They will draw and color using these tools, moving beyond earlier scribbles. Your child should have jumbo crayons and markers, thick sidewalk chalk, and be given many opportunities to draw. Play-Doh is useful to help build fine motor skills.

After reviewing what a Pre-K program provides, you may believe your child can obtain the skills in your home environment, and if that is the case, the answer to the question would be “no.” If so, you should arrange playdates, get involved in play groups and take your child to a playground with other children. Give your child responsibilities at home and set rules and some routines for him/her to follow. Cheer successes, but also remember that failure is only a tool to learn and not a negative.