Higher income. Better self-esteem. Reduced teen pregnancies. Lower incarceration rates…
What is one way to achieve these positive results in the teenage years and adulthood?
Through quality early education.
It’s hard to imagine, but the quality of education your preschooler receives will end up having an impact on some of the biggest aspects of adult life later on, according to James Heckman, one of the nation’s top economists who studies human development.
“The gap is there before kids walk into kindergarten,” Heckman says. “School neither increases nor reduces it.”
But how can this be? We spend so much time worrying about our children’s test scores in middle school and high school. It’s almost as if we’re programmed to worry about our teenagers’ chances to get into college.
But studies are telling us we should be focusing our concern even younger — to preschool.
What your child does during his early years matters.
Early Brain Development
According to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, the first few years of life actually set the stage for lifelong development. In fact, by age 5, your child will already have developed a staggering 85 percent of her intellect, personality, and skills. Because young kiddos’ brains still have plasticity, they easily adapt to the things they’re exposed to. That’s why structured, enriching environments are crucial to brain development.
And that’s why a high-quality preschool is a critical component of shaping that 85 percent. High-quality preschool will actually help your child be successful throughout the remainder of his educational career.
Giving your child more exposure to language, caring interaction with adults, positive learning experience, and more will even help her brain develop more extensive and sophisticated neuron structures. These structures actually have an effect on later behavior and intelligence.
“Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not,” W. Steven Barnett, PhD., NIEER director.
But these results can’t be achieved with just any ol’ daycare or preschool. It’s important that you find a high-quality preschool for your child to attend.
So What Does a High-Quality Preschool Education Look Like?
Sitting children down with flashcards and worksheets is the best way to get them to learn, right?
On the contrary, when children are given the opportunity for hands-on exploration, they get to test their knowledge in a safe and relaxed environment. Relating this new knowledge to what they already know then becomes easy.
Child-initiated activities, plenty of materials to explore, and free choice is what creates successful preschool students.
“Young children can certainly learn letters and numbers, but to sit kids down and ‘teach’ them is the wrong way to do it,” says Linda Smith, executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. “They learn best through doing the kinds of activities they find interesting — storytime, talking to their teachers about stars, playing with blocks.”
A high-quality preschool needs to have:
- Specific areas for different kinds of play
- Credentialed teachers
- Engaging activities that help children learn
- Teachers who engage positively with the children
- A well-structured and well-managed program
- Opportunities to learn with hands-on activities
- Unique ways to learn
- Positive relationships
- Routines and consistency
- Patient teachers who allow children to repeat their activities
- Teachers who get down on the children’s level
- Teachers who are respectful
- Open-ended play
- A balanced teacher-student ratio
- A safe environment
Tip: Take this thorough, handy checklist with you when checking out preschools.
All parents want their children to live happy, successful lives. It’s reassuring to know that you can make a positive impact during those early, developing years with the right preschool.
UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Utah builds confidence, learning, and creativity in preschoolers through our unique approach that combines nurturing with a comprehensive curriculum. We help your child build academic, social, emotional, and physical confidence. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online for a tour of the preschool.