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Judi Holland: Why preschool is important

Judi Holland/For the Craig Daily Press

Summer is almost over and school is about to begin. Families might be asking themselves if it is time to enroll their child in preschool. Here are some ideas to ponder to help families make that decision.

What is preschool?What is preschool?

What is preschool?

Preschool is usually for children who are between 3 to 5 years old. These children have progressed beyond toddlerhood but aren’t old enough for kindergarten. A good preschool program will emphasize the ways it promotes your child’s development, including setting the foundation for a strong start in kindergarten. Each preschool touts different philosophies. There isn’t a right or wrong philosophy; think of it as different ways to approach learning.

How is preschool different from child care?How is preschool different from child care?

How is preschool different from child care?

Preschools classically offer care for fewer hours and tend to follow the public school schedule. Preschools must be licensed. In Colorado, an early childhood teacher and/or director is required to take 12/30 credit hours, respectively, in Early Childhood Education.

Child care centers can be a more convenient choice for working parents because they usually provide full-time care, even during school breaks. And they typically accept a wider age range, from infants through pre-kindergarteners.

How is preschool similar to child care?How is preschool similar to child care?

How is preschool similar to child care?

“A good daycare and a good preschool probably won’t be all that different,” says Leslie Roffman, director of a preschool in San Francisco. “People tend to use the word ‘daycare’ in a derogatory way, but that’s a misconception in popular culture.”

Child care centers, the current and preferred term for day care centers, and preschools must meet the same licensing and accreditation requirements, and in general, can be evaluated using many of the same criteria. They often cost about the same, too.

Are there differences educationally?Are there differences educationally?

Are there differences educationally?

Though public perception might be different, too often, school-based programs are depicted as more academically focused, while childcare programs are seen as more “taking care of baby.” However, research has shown that the best child care programs are designed to foster children’s cognitive, social and physical development, just as preschools do.

Also, remember, preparing a child for kindergarten success does not mean enrolling your child in a rigorously academic program. “Be wary of programs that claim to teach academic skills or ‘speed up’ children’s intellectual development,” say experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics. “From a developmental standpoint, most preschoolers are not yet ready to begin formal education.”

Judi Holland is the program director for Early Childhood Education at CNCC. Reach her at judi.holland@cncc.edu or 970-824-1154.Judi Holland is the program director for Early Childhood Education at CNCC. Reach her at judi.holland@cncc.edu or 970-824-1154. Judi Holland is the program director for Early Childhood Education at CNCC. Reach her at judi.holland@cncc.edu or 970-824-1154.


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