Should Your Child's Preschool Have An Academic Focus, Or Is It Too Early?

Deciding on the philosophy of the preschool your child will be attending can be a very challenging decision for many parents. Although there are various philosophies such as Montessori, Bank Street, and Community, these are usually classified as either play-based or academic.

Different groups will swear by different philosophies, but there haven't been many studies done that can conclusively show which is best. Many people argue that at such an early stage, an academic focus offers the child no additional benefits. How can you make a decision between a play-based or academic philosophy?

Important Factors to Consider

It's easy to get carried away in the argument of academic versus play-based, but it's important to remember that there are other factors that have to be taken into consideration, too. These include:    

  • The cost of the preschool     

  • Location    

  • Schedule    

  • Credentials of the teachers    

  • Safety    

  • Your child's needs    

  • Accreditation status of the school

These things matter just as much as the philosophy when you're choosing a day-care center or preschool. If you have a child with special needs, the philosophy of the preschool isn't likely to be the most important factor.

Characteristics of Play-Based Programs

In these preschools, the children are given freedom to choose an activity based on what they find interesting at a particular moment. The classroom is usually divided into various sections corresponding to different activities, which may include:    

  • The home    

  • A reading area    

  • An area with toys, such as blocks    

  • A science area

The teachers take on a more passive role and encourage the kids to play and interact without rigidly directing the activities. The kids learn plenty of important skills as they play, and these are skills that will serve them well once they enter kindergarten.

Characteristics of Academic Programs

These programs are directed and managed by the teacher. Learning takes place in a more structured fashion, and the learning is purposefully aimed at readying the children for kindergarten. Time spent in the classroom is dedicated to learning specific skills such as:  

  • Sounds and letters    

  • Shapes and colors    

  • Telling time

Academic programs have long been viewed as better at preparing the student for later stages of learning, but studies have shown that the difference is only short-term, and the students might be better off learning emotional and social skills.

At the end of the day, regardless of the option you choose, experts agree that a preschool shouldn't have a rigid setting like that of an elementary school.

For more information, contact a day-care center or preschool, like Kidstown Drop-In Child Care Center.