Words of Advice
If you decide to skip preschool, you can easily provide an enriching environment at home and in your child's life with a little bit of work, imagination, and care. Attend parent-and-child events and activities at local bookstores, museums, and arts-and-craft stores frequently. Purchase books, visit your local library, or search the Internet for age-appropriate story books, activity workbooks, and CDs. Andrews recommends parents learn as much as they can regarding early childhood education. "For parents who make the conscious decision to delay preschool, it is vitally important to become informed of the latest in research and materials," she emphasizes.
Another way to learn more about what your child should be learning at this stage, and how to prepare her for kindergarten, is to contact a preschool educator or someone with experience in early childhood education. Ask questions to see what they recommend for children to learn and experience at each appropriate age.
If preschool sounds like the perfect opportunity to give you child an enriching experience away from home (and maybe even offer you or your partner a much-needed parenting break), you still should plan and learn as much as you can regarding your child's education. Take the time to explore several different preschool programs in your area—from Montessori, to Head Start, to developmentally appropriate preschool (the most common type in the United States) programs—there are many to choose from.
While exploring different preschool options, keep in mind your child's individual needs and personality. "If possible, [visit the school] during the day to see interaction between the teacher and students," suggests James. "Request a meeting with a teacher to find out discipline procedures, consequences, conflict resolution modeling and discuss any concerns. The parent and teacher must become a team for the benefit of the child," she adds.
Whether you choose to send your child to preschool or decide to not pursue a pre-K program, it is important to provide your child with a positive environment in which to learn and develop the necessary cognitive abilities and skills. Through family activities and outings, playing games, reading, and just sharing some one-on-one time, your child will acquire a warm, secure relationship with you and your partner, and will advance his or her social, developmental, and cognitive skills.
Although parents and caregivers around the nation have different opinions about the subject of preschool, one thing is perfectly clear: there is no right or wrong choice. What is best for your child is the only thing that matters (and that is a decision only you can make).
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