Christine Guitar 2017-02-03 08:55:18
PRESCHOOL WORKS The case for starting education early Preschool programs offer young learners the opportunity to create, explore, and think in environments that are nurturing, engaging, and fun. Yet parents often ask, “Should I enroll my child in a preschool program?” A few recent studies point to the value of beginning the educational journey early in a child’s development. A study published in 2016 by students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that there were positive effects on children’s vocabulary skills when they were enrolled in a preschool program compared to home-based care. An earlier study published in 2013 by Yoshikawa and Weiland looked at 84 preschool programs and concluded that on average, “children gain about a third of a year of additional learning across language, reading and math skills.” Local results also point to the value of early childhood education. Traverse City Area Public Schools found that students who attended the Great Start Readiness Program, Early Childhood Special Education, or a tuition-based preschool program tested two to three percentage points higher than those who did not attend preschool. “When students enter my preschool classroom, they are often apprehensive, but excited to be in a school environment and around others their age,” said Julie Brott, preschool teacher at Eastern Elementary School. “After two or three weeks, they have learned daily routines, made new friends, and started to make visible progress in their learning.” Through play activities, preschool students learn foundational skills like letter formation, sounds, and number recognition. By using items they can touch and feel, like sand trays, students practice drawing letters and numbers. This learning is reinforced throughout the year using other tools, like wax sticks or pebbles. Activities in preschool programs are designed to address each child’s individual developmental needs, emphasizing literacy and language development. Children engage in learning through music instruction, arts and crafts, creative games, science and nature projects, computers, and productive play. They also receive scheduled time to rest. While the academic benefits are clear, other aspects of a child’s growth are no less important. Children in a preschool classroom receive social, physical, emotional, and intellectual stimulation throughout their day. A student who is not emotionally ready for learning will lag behind. By being asked to share with their peers, they have the opportunity to learn appropriate social skills. Students also learn to express themselves in a productive way when they become frustrated or experience other emotions in the classroom. Preschool offers the educational jumpstart that many children need to be prepared to learn in kindergarten and beyond. If you are still wondering if preschool is the right fit for your child, call a provider to schedule a tour. Christine Guitar is Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Director of Marketing and Communications. Info@tcaps.net HELPING YOUR CHILD PREPARE FOR PRESCHOOL • Establish a routine schedule • Ensure your child is well rested • Visit the school ahead of time • Talk about how fun it will be at school • Practice self-care (dressing, toileting) • Practice taking turns with other children
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