Do I have to put my son in preschool?
You can provide group experiences with library story hours or age appropriate classes in music or art. Most traditional nursery schools have four year olds go three half days a week. This is an excellent way to ease a child into school the year before kindergarten. For a really excellent experience for you and your child look for a cooperative nursery school where parents help out in the classroom on a rotating basis. They tend to be less expensive than other kids of programs and are usually run by a board of directors controlled by parents.
Preschool helps primarily with socialization. Not only do they meet other children of different ages, but also different ethnic backgrounds and different social customs.
At preschool, the primary ideas we teach are socialization and personal safety. We also give them lots of tools to play with, paint with and explore. The children get chances to use pencils, crayons, chalk, play dough and other sensory experiences to strengthen their hand muscles.
We expose them to letters and stories of the alphabet. I personally, expose the alphabet to them by helping them write and understand the letters of their name. When they can do that, then we work on phone numbers and continue from there.
There are lots of very unique experiences that your child can enjoy in preschool. You don’t HAVE to enroll them, but think of what your child can learn if you do.
If you work with your son at home by reading with him, giving him access to crayons, paper, etc., point out alpha letters in environmental print, help him learn the abc song (although knowing the song is not the same as knowing the alphabet by sight), help him start counting and writing his name (first letter capital, the rest lower case), he will be on his way–just do this in the normal course of the day, don’t force it on him. Another plus for pre-school is the socialization–getting along with other students, minding other adults, etc. and not having a tantrum when mom leaves.
Florida has a free voluntary half-day 4 yr. old pre-school program (available at private pre-schools and at public schools) that is open to everyone, space permitting, as the state believes that students that do go to preschool are better prepared for the rigors of kindergarten. We also have full day pre-school for young students at risk due to disabilities.
Many students come into kindergarten well prepared to start their school careers because their parents work with them at home. Others, who did not go to pre-school or who do not have this home support (or who speak a different language at home, benefit from the pre-school experience; pre-school students with learning disabilities can be identified and services can begin in pre-k and continue into regular school without missing a beat. If the disability isn’t suspected until the kindergarten year, valuable time is lost in getting testing and proper placement.
In the end, it will be up to you to decide if you should put your son into pre-school. (Personally, I would keep him at home and work with him and find a playgroup for him to meet with others his age once or twice a week—they grow up sooo fast once they begin kindergarten!)
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