The preschool years are a critical period in the development of academic and social skills. Learning to control behavior, follow classroom rules and expand vocabulary are among the many important goals in working with preschool children. Improving a preschooler's grasp of the English language lays a solid foundation for when the time comes to learn to read and write. In addition, plenty of play time should also be incorporated into a preschool program.
Preschool programs should purposefully guide activities, explains Education.com. Effective curriculum should take into account a child's unique interests and abilities and create ways to enhance individual strengths. Preschoolers should have ample opportunities to delve into materials and equipment, like puzzles, board games, preschool nails, stethoscopes, toy cameras and telephones, as they learn best by doing rather than observing, points out the Massachusetts Department of Education. Preschoolers may be introduced to math with simple adding and subtracting and learn to identify colors, shapes and numbers, as cognitive development continues to play a greater role in preschool curriculum. Reciting names, addresses and phone numbers may also be part of a preschool program.
Playing word games teaches preschoolers how to rhyme -- one and fun, two and you. Thinking of a variety of words to describe an object helps expand a child's vocabulary. For example, a beach ball is colorful, round and soft. Learning new words to describe the same thing or action such as dining and eating or pouting or sulking promote a preschooler's language development. In addition, preschoolers should be encouraged to relay the important elements of a story, explains Scholastic.com
Regularly spending time with peers allows preschoolers to learn effective social skills such as sharing, cooperating and developing positive relationships with their teachers. Preschoolers can become less self-absorbed as they begin to consider the needs of others and develop helpful and caring attitudes toward classmates and adults, explains Education.com.
Physical exercise is an important part of a preschooler's day. Children in this age group generally have the motor skills necessary to run, play tag, jump rope and toss a ball back and forth. Climbing a slide ladder, then gliding down is also a popular and enjoyable way for preschoolers to exercise large motor skills. Exercises should be limited to flat surfaces that don't call for a great deal of complex movements since preschoolers have yet to fully develop their balance or hand-eye coordination, cautions HealthyChildren.org.
The Importance of Play
Getting plenty of playground time is a important element of a well-rounded preschool program. In fact, engaging in free-play activities like fantasy play, rough and tumble play and simply goofing around is hands-down the most important activity for preschoolers, according to Psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, author of "Playful Parenting." Cohn tells WebMD that free-play optimizes a child's brain development because he's allowed to challenge himself at a level he's comfortable with.
- HealthyChildren.org: Cognitive Development in Preschool Children
- WebMD: Health And Parenting
- Education.com: Appropriate Preschool Goals
- Massachusetts Department of Education: Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences
- Education.com: Developmentally Appropriate Materials for Preschool and Kindergarten Children (Ages 3-6)
- Scholastic.com: How Young Children Learn
- HealthyChildren.org: Physical Activity: Make the Right Choice for Your Child
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images