Choosing Between Play-Based and Acadmic Preschool Programs
More than 65% of young children participate in pre-primary programs. Preprimary programs include preschool, with 75% of children enrolled in academic preschool programs. When it comes to choosing a preschool in which to enroll your child, research is imperative. While it may seem like a decision as simple as finding a preschool close to your home, there are many deciding factors that should ultimately effect your decision.
The basics of differing preschool philosophies fall into two categories: play-based or academic. Many preschools will differentiate themselves based on these two categories. This will give you an idea of what to expect from the play-based or academic preschool curriculum.
Aside from deciding whether you want your child to spend their days participating in structured play or being introduced to academic programs, there are many factors that a parent should consider when choosing a preschool:
- Teacher credentials
- Child?s Needs
Factoring in your child?s needs is perhaps the most important aspect of choosing a preschool. While you may want them to only learn when attending preschool, that may not be what?s best for them emotionally or mentally. If your child responds well to structure and being challenged, finding the right preschool may mean only considering academic preschool programs.
On top of maintaining what?s best suited for your child, you will also want to explore where your values lie. Do you consider play to be an integral part of a child?s development? If so, how much play would you like them to participate in? Do you want your child to be exposed only to structured classes or do you want your child to be able to choose what avenues of interest they explore?
Classrooms within these preschools will usually be separated into key areas: home, kitchen, science, crafts, toys, etc. The essence of this style is to teach kids how to develop social skills that may otherwise be lacking. It also allows them to explore things that may interest or disinterest them.
While the term may be a bit misleading, it?s important that parents don?t put too much stress on a child spending their preschool career doing things they will do in elementary school. The benefits of academic preschool programs lie in the organization and structure but they shouldn?t require your child to sit for 15 minutes at a time to focus on something they may not be interested in. There is an increase in structure but there is still an emphasis on exploration and play.