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Do Kids Need to Go To Preschool?

By Renee Mosiman, M.A. and Mike Mosiman

The Smarter Preschooler!For many parents today, sending their children to preschool is a foregone conclusion. But for those who are pondering a different path, the pressure to conform and start their child in a formal preschool program can be overwhelming. We know.

Before our oldest son was two, other parents were asking where we planned to send him to preschool, and the closer he came of age, the more people asked. As the children of our play group approached the age of three, nearly every parent started making plans for preschool.

But as parents, our instinctive response was that preschool was not necessary for everyone. Other moms were surprised to learn we were not planning to send our son. We heard concerns such as “He won’t be socialized,” “He won’t go to college,” “What about learning computers?” and “How will he handle kindergarten?”  Many parents simply raised their eyebrows in quiet disapproval.

We have since discovered that many parents send their kids to preschool simply because “everyone else’s” kid is going—even if their children have the opportunity to stay home until they are of school age. Since it can be difficult for many people to go against the group consensus—if not impossible for some—we want to help you to resist social pressure.

Parents must first realize there is little research to support that preschool benefits children of middle social economic status (SES) or higher. Nearly all of the research on preschool programs has been done on high risk children. And even many of the gains shown in those programs are lost as the children get older. And children from families of all different SES have shown no improvement on nationalized test scores in recent years even though an increasing number of kids have been going to preschool.

So if trained professionals cannot produce long-terms cognitive gains during the preschool years, how can you, the parent, hope to make a difference?

The difference comes from talking, playing, and singing with your child. Cognitive gains result from reading together; gardening, cooking, and running errands together. Visiting the library, museum, and zoo can offer even more learning opportunities without the rigidity of a classroom. Playing with friends and siblings, visiting relatives, or running errands to the bank, store, dry cleaner can provide all of the socialization opportunities a young preschooler needs.

Your child can blossom by adding in a few select classes or sports. And for an older preschool, workbooks can provide some pencil and paper activity. But most importantly, success comes from trusting that you, as a parent, can offer all of the intellectual enrichment that your son or daughter needs.

If you believe sending your child to preschool is not best for your child or your family, our message is: Don’t feel pressured if you do not feel preschool is the right choice. Don’t jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. Your child will not be at a disadvantage by not attending preschool. In fact, if you create an enriched home environment, your youngster may be better off without it. You can provide all the enrichment preschool provides—and more.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

Books:

Websites:

  • www.universalpreschool.com — How To Teach Your Tots At Home – Activities for learning!
  • www.momsclub.org — International club for connecting at-home-mothers and children through playgroups and other various activities
  • www.enchantedlearning.com — Subscription based ($20/year) website offering printable activities for preschool aged to early elementary aged children
  • www.musictogether.com — Early childhood music program for babies through kindergarteners and their parents.
  • www.museumspot.com — Museum listings by location and specialty

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