When a baby is born, its brain is virtually a blank slate, and our innate curiosity and burning desire to understand the world around us make early childhood – the first five years – the optimum time of life for learning and development. At no other time of life are humans so receptive to stimuli from their environment. Preschool programs allow children to be in an atmosphere that takes advantage of this unique, once-in-a-lifetime period of incredible growth and development – socially, emotionally, intellectually. What are some things children will learn in preschool?
Colors, Shapes, Words, Objects
These are among the most elementary things a child should learn at an early age. Long before a child can read, he/she can be taught blue, yellow, red, circle, square, triangle, and the names of many different objects – animals, toys, household items, body parts, clothing, food, etc. Storytime and reading in preschool expose children to a host of different shapes, colors, and objects.
Numbers and Counting
This is the beginning of learning math. Children should, at an early age, learn how to count to ten and be able to identify the numerals 0 to 9 when they see them. At first, counting is simply memorization: the child just learns the correct order of the words. Later, children realize that those words – the numbers – correspond to objects and refer to quantity. They may not be able toexplain the concept, but they understand it.
Sounds and Letters
A love of reading, language, and books can be instilled at an early age. This starts with reading to/with children even before they can read themselves and helping them learn the alphabet. They can learn to recognize all 26 upper case letters (lower case letters will come later). Next, they learn to recognize their own first name and print it, and to trecognize simple words like dog, cat, mom, etc. It simply cannot be overstated how important it is to read to children regularly, for at least a few minutes every day.
Social Skills and Sharing
In preschool children learn how to communicate, work in groups, cooperate, share, and solve problems. These social skills are invaluable in helping them to develop at an early age and learn how to get along with others.
Many activities in preschool involve motor skills such as drawing, cutting, painting, coloring, organizing and stacking things, playing with clay or Play-Doh, Simon Says, music/dance, etc. These activities teach children body and hand-eye coordination and help them to understand their own personal space and that of others.
The Benefits Are Many
Through structured lessons, group play, and creative activity, preschool children build self-confidence. They learn how to share, cooperate, solve problems, and overcome their own mistakes as well as those of others. They acquire simple reading and math skills. Early childhood is the optimum time to teach these lessons, and taking advantage of these formative years will serve children well into adulthood.