High-Pressure Preschools: How Much is Too Much? (page 2)

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Updated on Feb 1, 2011

Too Much Pressure

Instilling in young children a love of learning is one of the most important aspects of preschool. When preschools become too focused on making sure children are learning advanced skills—especially using methods that are more suited for older children— children can become frustrated and bored by school. Your school shouldn’t be turning your child off to all that he can learn and explore at such a young age. He should be excited to go to school—and he will be if he is being taught in ways that are both engaging and appropriate for his stage of development.

How can you tell if your child is enjoying preschool? It’s normal to have some separation anxiety, especially if preschool is your child’s first experience away from you. However, most children learn quickly that school is fun and will adjust to the routine in the first weeks of school. If your child is refusing to go to school, it may be a sign that the school is not a good match for your child.

Preschoolers’ brains are like little sponges, and they’re capable of memorizing large amounts of information. But your child will spend plenty of time working on academic skills when he gets to elementary school. An introduction with hands-on components is fine, but drilling children to memorize math facts is neither a good use of time nor a fun introduction to learning for young children.

Developmentally appropriate programs meet children at their level and help them learn in ways that are best suited to their learning style. If your child seems to be having trouble adjusting, ask to come and observe class to see if he seems frustrated or bored by what he is being asked to do. It may be that he would benefit from an extra year of preschool … or it could be that the teacher’s expectations are unrealistic for your child.

If it seems like the expectations are too high, express your concerns and ask the teacher or director to explain the philosophy so that you can better understand the methods that are used. You can then make a good judgment about whether the school is a good fit for your child.

Preschool should be a time of learning, but it should also be fun! A preschool that provides your child with the opportunity to learn in ways that encompass his natural desire to engage and explore will provide him with all he needs to be prepared for kindergarten. While he may not have first grade math facts memorized or be able to read, your preschooler's love of school and learning is the most important skill to take into kindergarten.

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