What is my preschooler learning?

by | February 28, 2007 12:00 am

Mary White

In the years before first grade, it is most important for children to learn many skills. They are not just playing. They are also not just preparing to learn- they are actually learning things they will need for the rest of their lives. Without the basic skills taught in pre-school, they may not be ready to learn other knowledge in higher grades.

Pre-school teachers teach their 4 year-olds that printed words stand for something real and that print can help us discover new things. Naming letters and their sounds is also important. The teachers help children with this as the children show that they are ready and interested. Letter sounds are much more valuable to children after they understand that the words are telling a story.

Walk into a pre-school classroom and you will see signs with pictures and words. This helps children to connect printed words with real objects. Lots of books are provided for preschoolers.

At home, as you read with your children, run your fingers under the words. This helps them learn that the words go from left to right.

What about math? The pre-school goal is to get children excited about math. They do this by using math skills in everyday situations. Play can form a foundation for future success in math. Where is math in the preschooler’s world? When preschoolers are playing in the dress-up area, and they set the table for a tea party- each doll gets one plate, one napkin, and one cup. This is a math concept called one-to- one correspondence. Children improve their understanding of quantity by counting out and matching real objects with numbers.

When it comes to preschool science concepts, children begin learning about how things work and how things are made by experimenting with objects. Questioning is part of this curiosity. Preschoolers ask lots of questions, specially, “Why?” Although this can be nerve-wracking, it is part of their scientific process. Teachers respond to these questions by encouraging children to find out the answers for themselves. They ask questions like, “What do you think?” or “How can we find out what would happen if…?”As a parent, you can help children to be careful observers of nature and experiment to find out. Natural curiosity makes preschoolers naturals at science.

It might seem as though art activities are just messy, but they provide such important learning experiences for the children that pre-school teachers include them in our program as often as possible. Painting, drawing and creating sculptures with clay or play dough increase children’s small muscle skill and strength. This is important for their writing ability. Art can also be a way for children to express their ideas and feelings. Being able to think about something they can’t see and then create it in a drawing.

As a parent you must reinforce the learning provided by pre-school. Follow up and ask questions about what your preschooler is learning and how you can help assure school success.

For more information about how parents and families can promote school success in their students, call the Emanuel County Extension office at 237-1226.

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