So it's time to go Preschool shopping for your little on and you are getting a little bit overwhelmed with everything you have to keep in mind. Of course you want a place where your child is safe, loved, and nurtured, but also your child has growing cognitive needs. With your 3 or 4 year old seeming to learn more and more each day, you want to make sure they are in an environment where they aren't only encouraged academically, but challenged as well.
Unlike some adults, kids at this age love challenges, learning, and discovering new things, so you want to make sure you select a Preschool that fosters this natural curiosity. But still, you may be asking, what skills should my child be developing at this age? How can I make sure that the Preschool I pick will set them up for success in Kindergarten? Good question! Continue reading below to see the four main areas of development you'll want your 3 or 4 year old to focus on during their time in Preschool.
As your 3 or 4 year old is still growing in the physical sense, you'll want to be sure that the Preschool you enroll your child in incorporates activities and play that flex their physical muscles in addition to their mental ones! While time on the playground is great in the sense of general body movement and exercise, where you really want to see growth in your 3 or 4 year old is in their fine and gross motor skills. This includes things like their ability to grasp with the whole hand (remember they should be leaving Preschool able to grip a writing utensil long enough to write their name), pinch with their fingers (muscles that are developed through play with items like snaps, buttons, tweezers, and play dough), and purposeful whole arm movements (such as writing on an easel). Especially in this day and age where most kids are used to operating things with no more than a press of a finger, you want to make sure your child's Preschool program encourages doing things the "old fashioned way" so that when they do move on to Kindergarten, skills like gripping a pencil come to them easily and with little frustration.
Of course, when we think of school, this is the skill parents typically think of...what is this school going to teach my child? This is so important and is a question that can be answered by asking Preschools you are looking into what their curriculum is. Educational researchers are in common agreement that by the end of Preschool (to be fully prepared for Kindergarten) a child should be able to: count in their head from one to ten and count aloud to twenty, identify all major shapes, identify primary and secondary colors, understand and create AB patterns, be able to write their own name (or a shortened version of their name i.e. a nickname), and identify all letters in the alphabet by looking at them. While this is a basic list, you'll want to make sure your child is leaving Preschool with these foundational skills so that they are set up for success when starting Kindergarten.
Perhaps you didn't think this should be on your Preschool question list, however at 3 and 4 years old children should be beginning to grasp what different emotions are and identify when they're feeling each one. More than this, they should begin to understand when it's appropriate to talk out loud, when it's time to be quiet and listen, and how to interact with friends and their teacher in a respectful fashion. Without these basic skills, your child may struggle with transitioning to Kindergarten, so be sure that your child's Preschool is sensitive to the budding emotional development of this age group and will assist in guiding their students towards making healthy emotional decisions in an encouraging way.
Finally, you'll want to make sure your child's Preschool encourages social development. While some kids are naturally social and find it easy to play with others, other children struggle in this area, so you'll want to make sure that socialization is built into their Preschool curriculum. Whether it's the freedom to choose play partners or being encouraged to socialize during snack time, adults know that social skills are important in every day life and therefore it's vital to start developing them as early as the preschool age.
And on a final general note: don't forget that for children, play is learning! So don't fret if much of their day is seemingly filled with play, this is completely normal at the Preschool age and teachers are most likely sneaking in physical, intellectual, emotional, and/or social development during these play periods. The bottom line is, if you're not sure why something is on your child's schedule or considered normal practice at their Preschool, simply ask and you may be shocked by how astute and logical the answer is!
Overall, we hope this gave you a better understanding of your child's Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Social needs at 3 and 4 years old. There's different childcare based on ages. Knowing what your child needs at this age will help you select a Preschool that tends to their specific needs and sets them up for success in Kindergarten!
All Kidz Preschool - Winter Garden
1130 E. Plant St.
Winter Garden, FL 34787