Benefits of Early Childhood Education; Why Children Who Attend Preschool Have a Leg Up

Enrolling your child in preschool can be a little scary. It may be the first time you’ve ever left your child on their own, or the first time they’ve done formal learning. Many parents wonder if preschool is just a glorified daycare, or if there are real benefits to signing their children up for classes.

The good news is, there is a lot of research on preschool children and how they perform in grade school compared to children who did not attend. The research overwhelmingly favors preschool children in terms of grades, as well as other life skills.

Encourages Curiosity
There’s a whole world out there for children to explore. Preschool can be an entry into that world. Whether your child is playing with blocks or learning about alligators, their world is expanding. A good preschool set up to share the world with their students can help develop a life long passion for learning.
Play based learning can take your child farther than strict learning or drilling on numbers because it makes them want to learn instead of dreading it.

Helps Build Trust in Adults
Preschool children learn early that other people besides their parents can be trusted. They learn to listen to other adults, and to trust them with their needs and problems. That ability to communicate well with other adults can make a big difference in their ability to get the most out of their education later in life.

Better lifetime benefits
Most of what your child learns in preschool will no longer give them an edge after second grade. Yet studies show the lifetime benefits of attending preschool are huge. Children who attend preschool are less likely to be arrested, more likely to attend and complete college, and often live healthier lives as well.

Preschool sets the stage for how children learn and gives them a solid foundation to build the rest of their lives on.

More exposure to reading
Reading is a powerful tool for your child, and being read to is the first step to learning. Children who are read to frequently do better in school than children who don’t. Children who are read to every night have heard up to a million more words than children who don’t regularly have reading time. This is a huge difference.

Other indirect benefits
Many parents also benefit from preschool too. In lower income homes, preschool can provide stability for the children. It can also provide adults the chance to attend college, take a full time job, or better their lives in other ways.

When adults have a chance to better their situation knowing their child is safe, it can change a child’s living situation for the better.

If you’ve been wondering about whether your child should attend preschool or not, the evidence is clear. Decades of research have shown that children from every background benefit from preschool. Those who attend preschool can generally expect better results not only in their grades, but through the rest of their adult life as well.

Interesting research:

Brain Development in Children 0-5

The first five years of a child’s life are critical for their development. These years don’t just mean learning to walk, run and play, but are also the period of time when a child’s brain is developing at it’s fastest.

By the time a child is 5, over 90% of their brain has already been developed. A newborn’s brain will have doubled in size by the time they are one years old, and the most critical part of development—connection of the brain via neurons—happens at a rate of about 700 connections a second during this period.

Brain development has a lifelong impact
Neural connections happen through interactions with the world around them. When ever you snuggle your child, read them a book, play, or share a new experience with your child, you are helping develop their brain.

What experiences your child has during this time will determine what neural pathways are developed and help shape who your child becomes in a big way.
Healthy development stems from positive interactions between the child and their caregivers. This isn’t just the parents, but also daycare, preschool, and other caretakers in the child’s life. Much of these interactions include, “Serve and Return,” interactions, where caregiver and child take turns responding to each other.

For a baby, this might be cooing at a parent and having the parent respond or playing games like peek-a-boo. As the child grows older, conversations, play, and other more complex forms of
interaction replace these first early responses.

Positive stress can also help a child develop. Positive stress comes in the form of things like meeting new people or participating in a new game. Although they might feel nervous at first, this stress helps them learn how to handle challenges later, such as studying for school.

Negative interactions
Just as positive interactions help build the brain, negative interactions can also shape the brain. If a child grows up in a neglectful or abusive household, it can build the child’s brain in a negative way. Children who grow up with negative connections can be more prone to health problems, suffer from addiction issues, and more.
Although it’s possible to help undo some of this damage later in life, much of it is permanent.

How to support healthy brain development
Although the human brain continues to develop well into a person’s 20s, the most critical period of development is from birth to 5 years of age. It’s important to help build positive interactions during this time, both at home and with caregivers.

• Play with your child
One of the best ways to help a child develop is to simply play with them. Join them on their play pretend adventure, roll a ball to them, ask what they are playing and what is happening in their imaginative story.

The more you can go back and forth with a child to find out what they are doing, the better off they will be.

• Read books
Books are a great way to foster positive interactions. A child can look at books and interact with flaps or sliders, while hearing your voice and asking questions can all help form important neural connections in the brain.

• Choose caregiving wisely

Although parental actions are most important, a good caregiver can help boost brain power when you are not available. Choose a daycare or preschool that interacts positively with your child, and will continue that important development while you are at work or otherwise busy.

Your child will continue to grow and develop all of their life, but the first five years are developmentally most important. Make them count with these tips.

Early childhood brain development has lifelong impact

The Importance of Social and Emotional Learning in Early Childhood

A lot goes on in the development of young children before they reach school age. They learn how to move their bodies, how to talk, and also how to control themselves. Although social and emotional learning doesn’t get quite get the same attention as a child’s first word, it’s critical to their success in life.

Cooperation, learning to share, and communicating our needs are all things we will use every day throughout our whole lives. That learning begins very early. In school, children who have a good understanding of social and emotional learning (sometimes shortened to SEL) benefit greatly. A child with healthy emotional health often shows:

• A positive mood
• The ability to follow instructions
• Recognizing and labeling their own emotions
• Express needs and wants clearly

How children learn social and emotional skills
Preschool age children can develop SEL skills in a preschool setting, with the help of teachers experienced in guiding kids emotionally. With other children present, they learn how to share toys by taking turns, or to describe how they feel when their prize tower is knocked over.

A teacher who still treats them with warmth even when they’re having a bad day may help them in their ability to build better bonds with adults.
Learning they are respected and cared for at school can have a surprisingly long lasting impact on their emotional health as preschoolers transition to school life.

All these things come from a rich learning environment, with plenty of other kids and knowledgeable teachers to help them along the way.
The benefits of SEL skills

Kids who have been in an environment that values SEL skills and intentionally develops them benefit greatly from it. There have been hundreds of different studies conducted on various aspects of SEL skills in the classroom. These studies show:

• An 11% improvement in achievement tests
• 9% decrease in conduct problems
• 10% decrease in emotional distress at school

Since SEL skills aren’t part of a standard curriculum, its up to parents to seek out a school, or in a child’s younger years a preschool, that values SEL and develops it.

How teachers develop SEL skills
Teachers can have a big impact on how well a child learns these skills. This includes helping a child learn how to share toys with others, or helping them find the words to express their feelings, but they can also help in a variety of other ways.
There are a number of wonderful picture books out there teachers can read with students that can help open their world a little bit more. Books like, “When Sophie gets angry, really really angry,” help kids learn what to do to control their temper. “Can you be a friend?” Helps kids learn what friendship entails in a more concrete way.

A teacher may also help by building up the confidence of a child on an individual level. They may give the child appropriate positive physical contact, such as high-fives or pats on the shoulder. They may help teach the kid they are valued every day, even when it is not their best day.
When a child brings them a toy and chats about it, showing interest in it and describing the toy back to them in a different way helps boost vocabulary.

A formal SEL program has many benefits to a child, no matter what their age. Social and emotional skills are extremely valuable, and is one thing your child will benefit from their entire lives.

When Your Child Doesn’t Want to Leave Preschool

Preschool is a very fun place for children. There are lots of other kids to play with, lots of toys they don’t have at home, and lots of time to play, play, play. By the time you come to pick them up, children are also often tired from the day and not emotionally ready to deal with coming home.

As a parent it can be devastating to reunite with your child after a long day apart, only to have them burst into tears at the sight of you. It’s important to understand that although it may hurt your feelings, it’s completely normal.

Rest assured; your child is happy to see you. It’s simply that transitions are very difficult for children at this age and changing gears to go home can be a difficult one for them. If you’re struggling with a child who seems unhappy at pickup, here are a few tips to help calm the tears and make leaving Preschool a pleasant place again.

Let them finish what they’re doing

If you come to pick your child up and find them engrossed in an activity, give them a few minutes to finish what they are doing. Sometimes having the time to finish that block tower or color a picture is all they need to leave calmly.

If it’s not one they’ll be able to finish, warn them they have 5 minutes to get to a stopping point. Even if they can’t finish what they’re doing, knowing they have some time can help ease the transition between Preschool and home.

Offer choices

Giving your child choices (but not too many) can also help calm the storm. Instead of picking them up and simply taking them home, offer a few choices on what to do when they get home. If they know that they can choose between reading a book with you or 15 minutes of one-on-one playtime when they get home, it can give them something to look forward to.
When you get home, spend 30 minutes with your child playing and having fun. When your child knows that they are simply going to one fun activity to another, they may be more willing to leave without tears.

Make leaving fun

You can also help aid in the transition by making leaving fun. Can they jump like a kangaroo while going to the car? Do they know how to play red light, green light? Perhaps a game of it on the way out. If your child enjoys helping people, you might ask them to carry your bag for you or some other small tasks.

Your child loves you, but it may make you feel unloved when they burst into tears at the sight of you. Although hurtful, this is a very common issue that parents deal with in a young, tired child facing a transition.

These tips can help ease the transition so that your child is more willing to leave when it is time to say goodbye.

Preschool vs. Daycare

If you are not in the early childhood education field you may not be familiar with the difference between Preschool and Daycare but we are here to break it down for you. There is a definite disdain that overcomes a teacher or administrator who works in a preschool if someone refers to their program as a “daycare” and there is nothing wrong with that however you will get the explanation handed to you promptly as quickly as you said the word Daycare.

Let’s talk about the stigma around this field first before we dive into this topic. Let’s start with some facts that may or may not surprise you. Did you know that 90% of brain development happens BEFORE Kindergarten? Children’s brains are developing at a much faster rate during their first 6 years of life which allows them to learn things more quickly than adults. The most important fact is that Children are set up from birth to learn, absorb, grow and develop and the environment they are in directly impacts their brain development and ultimately who they will become later in life.

Parents have a lot of choices when looking into programs for their children. There are so many choices it can be overwhelming. A lot of research and time go into finding the right place for your family’s needs. This is where the difference between a daycare and preschool can be beneficial in the decision of where a child will attend. Daycares are typically focused around basic needs being met, and play. There may be a lot of free time, changes with staff and lack of communication throughout the day. A daycare may feel chaotic when you enter and even a little unkempt. This is not to say that daycares are good or bad, they just typically are less focused on the individual child and more on play and basic needs.

A Preschool should feel like a place where your child is getting a high quality learning experience. It will provide basic needs and care for children however the program will also have a curriculum, a daily schedule, a routine and structure for every child. Cleanliness and sanitation will be evident and daily communication with staff and families will be clear and consistent.

At Grateful Hearts Preschool we offer your child a high quality early childhood learning experience. Our program is intentional and cultivated to each child individually. We provide open communication with families daily and are dedicated to making sure your child’s educational experience sets them up for their future success.