Ask a parent about preschool, and you'll likely get one of two responses. There are parents who cannot wait for their children to start preschool so the child can start learning and the parent can have more free time. And then there are other parents who don't plan on sending their children to preschool because it is not mandatory and they'll start mandatory schooling "soon enough." Ultimately, whether or not preschool is right for your child is your own personal choice as a parent. However, there are plenty of good reasons to send your child to preschool even though the government does not mandate it.
Preschool sets children up for greater success in school later on.
You might assume that putting off school for another year or two — until it's mandatory — would have little effect on your child's education in the long run. It's only a year, right? Well... studies show otherwise. Studies conducted by researchers at Georgetown University found that students who attended preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-old children did better on 8th grade standardized math tests years later. There are many possible reasons for this. It's possible that preschool jump-starts learning and that students who attend will always be a bit ahead of the curve when compared to their non-preschool-attending peers. It's also possible that children who attend preschool are just more adapted to the school environment, and thus less likely to be absent or distracted.
Preschool offers the opportunity to make friends.
Making friends is an important skill throughout life. In high school, the ability to make friends will help your child feel connected and less alone as they deal with adolescent angst and the challenges of approaching adulthood. In college, making friends will make it easier for them to form study groups and fit in around the dorms. When they graduate, they'll likely find jobs through social connections.
While some people are naturally more social than others, the ability to make friends is, in part, a learned skill. Preschool offers your child a chance to start developing this skill earlier in life. And who knows where the friendships they make in childhood will lead?
Your child will adapt to a schedule.
When your child is at home, you probably cater to their schedule. If they need a nap, you adjust your schedule to meet their needs. If they want to eat lunch early, you prepare if for them, even though it's only 10:30 am! While there's nothing wrong with catering to your child's needs, this is not the way the world works once a person grows older. In the preschool environment, your child will have to learn to adhere to a schedule that is set for the needs of all — not just them. This will help your child get used to the restrictions that a daily schedule imposes. It will teach them patience, too.
Your child will get used to being away from you.
For most children, leaving their parents for a whole day is very difficult at first. Preschool allows your child a chance to get used to leaving you slowly. Since attendance is not mandatory, you can send your child for just a few days a week if that's what you feel comfortable with at first. There are even some half-day programs, which are a good way to ease your child into being away from you. If you wait until kindergarten to send them to school, they'll have to immediately be away from you all day, 5 days a week. That's a lot harder for both of you to deal with!
For additional information, contact a preschool like Sammamish Montessori School.