Important Life Skills Your Child Learns in Preschool

The day begins with a morning meeting. It’s 9 a.m., and there is a significant problem to be solved. A new toy has been introduced to the preschool.

So what’s the problem?

There is only one toy. There are 20 preschool students.

During the morning meeting, the students will discuss and decide who will use the toy and when. Together they will navigate through different scenarios and decide upon rules that will leave everyone, hopefully, satisfied.

The skills required to peacefully negotiate a solution to this problem are skills that these 4-year-olds will use again and again — throughout their entire scholastic experience and on into their work lives.

Preschool Sets the Stage for Life

Preschool provides young children with the opportunity to learn and practice important life skills, including independence, empathy, conflict resolution, how to listen and how to express oneself. It gives students a head start when entering kindergarten, as students who have been in preschool better understand how school works.

“Children really learn everything in preschool,” says Tracy Murch, head of Doherty Lower School at The Seven Hills School in Cincinnati. “[Preschool] is a really invaluable social opportunity, where one learns how to collaborate and be with someone else. It’s the beginning of understanding how to be a part of the community. How to respect one another and solve social differences.”

Play is Important

Intentional play in preschool provides young children with the opportunity to develop skills, which will inevitably lead to students’ success.

“We promote learning through purposeful play,” Murch says. “We set routines that support academic skills. We also teach lessons that are 100% life skill lessons.”

One such lesson is The Market. Students research and learn what a market is. They learn about supply and demand. They create an actual market where they sell an item to their peers. They develop the advertisement, the product, and even the receipts. In all of this they are developing language and social skills like cooperation. They are also developing executive skills like time management. And the whole thing feels and looks like play. Because it is.

Emilie Parry, owner and administrator of Creative Tots Preschool in Cincinnati, says that in her school, the focus is on developing the whole child through social instruction and intentional play.

“When we created the curriculum, we always wanted to make sure that we were focusing on what the children are interested in,” Parry says.

An example of Creative Tots responsive curriculum is the way that handwriting is taught. Many different mediums are brought into the classroom to reach students where they are. A student might make the letter “C” out of playdough and sticks, before they ever even pick up a pencil.

Independence is Fostered

In addition, a lot of learning in preschool happens within small groups. Students are encouraged to ask their classmates for help before they ask the teacher. This encourages socialization and responsibility.

“An essential part of preschool is fostering independence,” Parry says. “Starting with the toddler program, we encourage students to use their words to communicate with us. In the classroom, we encourage them to become leaders: getting their own coats on, doing classroom jobs. It’s all about learning responsibility within their community.”

Parry says that one thing that they really work on in preschool is developing problem-solvers and thinkers.

“We want the learning to be messy,” Parry says. “We do not want it to always go right. What you find with kids if the environment is so systematic, is that when they come to a problem, they quit. You have to have that messy kind of learning in order for deep learning to happen. If you can teach children to be thinkers, then no matter what they are faced with, they will be able to think their way through it.”

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