You spend quality time with your toddler. You’ve established a love of learning with books and a variety of activities. She knows her ABCs and colors and can count to ten (or more). She is very verbal; maybe even advanced. And, she has lots of family and cousins, maybe even older siblings to interact with. What’s the big deal about preschool? Why do you need it? And, can you let go?
The short answer is – parents can’t provide the same experiences that preschool can. Think of it like this – people go through various stages. Growth stages. Emotional stages. Learning stages. It’s like building a house. The family (in whatever configuration) is the first teacher and makes a strong base to support the next level. A strong family, in addition to experiences outside of the family, is a winning combination.
Benefits of preschool
Introduces cooperation within a structure
Since preschools generally focus on a limited age range (generally 2-4 years old), the children in class are approximately at the same stage of development. While that can create a bit of chaos for the teachers – toddler pandemonium!, it also provides some predictability. If you know what’s coming, you can plan around it.
It’s an adventurous routine
I know that’s a bit of an oxymoron but think about it. Kids like (and need) both. Class starts and ends at the same time. Parents drop off and come back to pick up (once they feel secure about that, kids generally relax and have fun). They know there are rules and peer pressure can help reinforce adherence to them. They also know they’re gonna do some fun stuff every day. And, there are other kids doing it at the same time who are also scared so the child knows they’re not the only one. Or, other kids who are confident and teaching your child how to feel the same way.
Friendship takes on a new meaning
Sure, kids may have fun with their siblings or cousins and may have friends outside of the family. But, preschool opens the concept up even further. They’re in class with other kids going through the same fears, interests, and learning. They can actually talk to strangers here!
This is a great time for toddlers to have experiences, and learn from them, independently of mommy or daddy. Yes, the teacher is there to guide them and course-correct as needed. But, the child gets to independently synthesize the information they’re taking in and make independent determinations on it.
The first few years of a child’s life aren’t preparing the child for a life spent only within the home or only with family members. It’s really a preview of a much wider view. If you’ve prepared them well, let them fly. Just be there when they come home to roost. And, they always will.
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