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Why Preschool Matters

Why Preschool Matters

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A good education is the greatest legacy we can give to a child, and a quality preschool program is a key component of a good education. That's why early childhood education is necessary, even if it may not be mandatory. Researchers have described preschool as "the most important grade," and confirmed a host of academic and social benefits for children who attend these programs.[1] Early learning programs give children confidence and teach them to communicate in the context of a safe, nurturing environment. Children also learn how to socialize and interact with people in their age group, a skill that will be important later on in life. The skills and values children learn in these early education programs are crucial in determining the adults they will grow up to be. A child without preschool education is 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teenage parent, and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.[2] These statistics alone should be incentive enough to invest in your child's preschool education.

Why Is It Important?

Young children need to spend time with adults and other children outside their family. This transition helps to develop their confidence, trust, and social skills. Interacting with initially unfamiliar people teaches them to help others and to appreciate the help others give them. A 3-year old child in preschool begins to gain independence. Just like at home, they will help at mealtimes and have chores. These activities help to develop their sense of responsibility, while also teaching them to have pride in their work.

Preschool also develops children's emotional intelligence. Young children get time to process their emotions and to make decisions on their own. They learn to manage their frustrations and anger, to have self-control, and to compromise with others. Early childhood education helps children learn the importance of sharing with others and including their peers in their playing activities. Toddlers learn to wait their turn to speak and to listen when others talk. Understanding how to respect teachers and classmates prepares children for elementary school and beyond, developing essential skills.

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What Do Kids Learn?
Developing minds thrive through both the emotional connections and the structure that preschool programs provide.

Most development occurs in the earliest years of a child's life. That's why we try to give our young children the right place for them to blossom and grow. Developing minds thrive through both the emotional connections and the structure that preschool programs provide. Children also learn important cognitive skills like reading and math through fun group activities such as vocabulary-building songs, rhyming chants, and patterns. Learning these abilities gives children a crucial head start in their academic development. Most preschools introduce the basic skills needed to support reading, and children who don't get those skills early tend to have a harder time later on.[3] Early education provides the foundation for everything kids learn in the early grades, and children who don't have that foundation are at a disadvantage from the start.

Preschools employ well-trained teachers with time for one-on-one instruction. Rules are hidden within activities, invisible to the children, keeping the learning environment positive and fun. "Real-life" playtime builds skills without the child even knowing. For instance, a teacher asks the children to work together and "run a restaurant." They take turns pretending to be chefs, wait staff, customers, and dishwashers. The combination of role-playing, cooperation, and individual skill-deployment (math, communication, etc.) helps children adjust their learning patterns to new and complex environments, preparing them for higher education and social life in general. It's also important to note that early education programs are designed to combine education and fun. By integrating learning skills into enjoyable activities, children learn to love learning and see it all around them.

Childcare, Early Learning, And Preschool Programs

When do kids start? Most kids start their education at the age of three, although many childcare centers accept children at birth. Most schools are for 3-5-year-olds, and if you are a low-income family, you can even send your children free in many cases! There are family-friendly options for full-day or part-day programs, as well as for twice a week or full-week scheduling.

YMCA daycare accepts children ages 6-months to 5 years. YMCA Preschool & Early Learning Centers prepare children for kindergarten, giving them valuable skills while developing the whole child. YMCA believes that early education is the foundation for all learning, empowering their students through learning activities like group tasks, creative drama, outdoor play, story-time, songs, and games.

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To enroll your child, you'll need to schedule an appointment with the preschool coordinator at your local center. You can apply for financial assistance based on your income level and the number of people in your household. You will also need to supply supporting documents like tax forms and pay stubs, as well as details like name, address, phone number, and date of birth. To find your local YMCA daycare or to contact them, click on this link.

The Head Start program collaborates with schools and childcare centers to ensure that services are available to every child, regardless of income. The Early Head Start program provides a variety of services for infants and toddlers up to 3-years old. The child can then transition into the Head Start Preschool program from ages 3-5.

The great thing about Head Start is its commitment to empowering children from all backgrounds. Parents with incomes at or below the federal poverty line, receiving TANF or SSI, or are homeless receive free services. What's more, each child receives immunizations and medical and dental exams as part of the program. To apply, you will need to schedule a face-to-face or telephone interview, and provide supporting documents including a birth certificate or social security card, federal tax returns, Social Security documents, TANF information, or pay stubs. Click on this link to the Head Start Website to apply.

When looking for an early education program for your child, search for institutions accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This organization maintains the highest educational standards among American preschools by carefully evaluating their curriculum, teacher qualifications, class size, and health and safety standards. They make sure young children are taught appropriately for their age and stage of development, that children are encouraged to set and meet goals, and that each school embraces the culture and linguistic diversity of their student body. To find out more about NAEYC accreditations, follow this link to the NAEYC website.

Is Preschool Necessary?

Early childhood education develops many skills crucial to academic, emotional, and social success. While shapes, numbers, and letters may be the "bread and butter" of early education, they are only the beginning for preschoolers. In a good program, children learn to speak in public, communicate thoughts and opinions, and socialize with their peers. Early education is so important that 40 states have funded preschool and early education programs for low-income families. Preschool isn't legally mandatory, but if you want your child to get the best possible start in life, you should consider it necessary and use any possible help to assure that your child gets access to a quality early education program.

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