When children get close to the age where they have the option to start school, parents are faced with the decision of whether it is appropriate to enroll them in preschool. Parents want their children to succeed in life, but it isn’t always clear whether preschool should be pursued. The preschool experience has many pros and cons, and parents should be prepared to do research and ask the right questions.
Opportunity to learn. Preschool is an opportunity for kids to start learning in a formal environment. The academic setting is not going to be rigorous, but it can be a way for kids to start getting into the school mode. When children are at a preschool age, learning can be fun, and parents may find that it is a good chance to begin building a scholastic mindset.
Relational environment. Preschool is an opportunity for kids to build relationships and learn how to work in teams. This can be an important social step for children who may not have experienced a group environment. The preschool setting is a chance for kids to learn about other personalities and start to create their social network.
A new challenge. Of course, the reality of education is that not all students have an ideal experience when they start school. Some children struggle with learning, even though it may be introductory material. In addition, some kids may have a hard time in a structured environment because of a lack of maturity.
Interacting with others. Another challenge with preschool is that not all relationships develop right away. Some children may experience a level of conflict with others, and even at the preschool level kids can start to form cliques. Therefore, parents must decide if their children are ready for the challenges of making friends.
Different perspectives. Some parents are eager to get their kids started in school so that they will succeed later at life. However, delaying the start of preschool a bit will not necessarily derail future chances. Preschool does not guarantee a smooth transition to kindergarten, notes Margaret Bridges, research scientist at University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the report "The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Development Nationwide: How Much Is Too Much?" Parents who are unsure about the timing of preschool may simply need to give it a try and see how it goes for their child.