Whilst it isn't compulsory to send your child to pre-school and for many letting go and letting a professional look after their child at such a young age is a daunting prospect, there are many benefits to your child’s development by attending pre-school:
Improve communication and social skills
Potentially most important in this key developmental stage is the improvement in communication and socialisation skills. Interacting with other children of their own age will equip them with interpersonal skills that will better prepare them for going to school. Regularly communicating with other children and adults will also help improve speech and language skills.
Head start in learning
Research shows that spending time in pre-school or nursery education enhances a child’s development. The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education project (first phase 2004) found that pre-school experience, compared to none, enhances all-round development in children and that an earlier start (under three) is related to better intellectual development. It also found that the beneficial effects of pre-school remained evident throughout Key Stage 1.
Learn to share
Such an important skill which, at times, you think your child will never learn! This common and notorious difficulty can be helped by early exposure to group play and interacting with other children. Children can begin to recognise the concept of sharing, taking turns and the joy that can be associated with playing together. It also helps with learning how to share a person’s time, such as an adult, and understanding that they can’t be the centre of someone’s attention all the time and need to learn to be patient.
Preparation for starting school
All early years’ education providers, such as pre-schools, have to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework which sets the standards they must meet to ensure children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. The EYFS is followed through into primary school and gives children the knowledge and skills for being ready for school and progressing through school life.
Children learn to play together, start to make relationships with other children and become friends. This is the age they talk more about their friends and who they like to play with.
If there is not one person there to help them the whole time, children learn to do things on their own or by themselves in a safe and supervised environment. This means they grow in independence which also helps for when they start school.
Build and develop relationships
Children at pre-school not only build relationships with other children but also other adults. Once at school children need to accept teachers as authority figures and recognise that their reactions to teachers are different to how they interact with their parents. Pre-school gives a good base for building these kinds of relationships and understanding the differences.
Learn through play
Young children learn through play as it encourages them to explore, be creative, use their imagination and show interest in new things. Any good pre-school will offer a whole range of activities throughout the day for children to choose and get involved in. This includes messy play, outside play, quiet time with books, arts and craft, role play, creative play … the list goes on.
Routine and structure
Any kind of early years education setting has routine and structure to the day. This is great for children as having routine and a predictable day helps them feel secure. They know what to expect and therefore become more confident in themselves and their surroundings. It also helps children understand the concepts of ‘before’ and ‘after’ and teaches them to wait until a certain time to do a certain activity.
Cost is always a concern with childcare, however, in England all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to between 570 - 1140 hours of free early education each year (this equates to 15-30 hours a week for 38 weeks a year). Some 2 year olds are eligible too depending on circumstances. This free education can take place in nurseries, playgroups, pre-schools or with childminders. Find out more at www.gov.uk/free-early-education
If you are interested in a particular pre-school and you want to check the curriculum, you are able to search each pre-school to view their Ofstead reports. Find out more at http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/
We have set out a number of reasons for sending your child to pre-school but obviously the decision is entirely down to you and what you think will work best for your child. Consider the benefits but also what works for your child – you know them best – and what fits in with your family life. This may well change over time, reconsider your decision if circumstances change.
At ELF we are experts in early years’ education furniture and equipment. We offer a wide range of classroom furniture, school library furniture and school play equipment. For more information on our products please contact us or call us on 01733 511121.