Its that time of year, when decisions are made about which preschool to choose and when to send preschoolers to kindergarten. What we have known for a very long time is being proven over and over and over again. Research has shown the importance of PLAY BASED preschools and that WAITING A THIRD YEAR for Kindergarten is key and crucial. Its not just educators and policy makers who know this. It is not a secret. It is undeniable and irrefutable. Yet, no matter how much we discuss the issue, when it comes time for parents to make the decision about academic vs play based preschool or whether to stay one more year of preschool, they find themselves confused and unsure. Over the years, we see parents of 2nd and 3rd children rushing rushing rushing them. What they chose for their first child and has proven to be the wise choice, seems to be forgotten. Practicality and driving concerns become more important…parents talk about the difference in temperament that seems to lead them to believe that readiness means something different, that the stronger or less sensitive second/third born can handle it sooner. What gets lost at that moment is that, no matter what the birth order or the temperament of the child, the third year is essential. Parents think preschoolers are ready for a PRE-K at an elementary school just because its called PreK (or DK, or TK, or now EK).
I was just told by an Admissions Director of a fine Westside Elementary/Middle/High School “Only children who are completely done with preschool should apply. At any elementary or public school, PK<DK<TK<EK is serious and requires a complete set of skills that many preschoolers are not able to sustain at this young age. When parents say that their preschool is encouraging their child to stay for the third year and are somehow dismissive of this advise, I tell them to listen to their preschool. Preschools will tell parents when their child is ready to go, they are not in the business of having children stay just to stay. Children who stay at preschool and stay for PRE-K are immediately ready to learn in that setting and more ready to make the adjustment to elementary school the following year”.
Do you remember that it took your new preschooler at least one semester to begin to make friendships? That timing, the first semester of a new year at school is real, no matter what age. If PREK is time to get ready for elementary school, than why are we sending children before they get ready?
The importance of being little can not be belittled. I am not asking parents to take our word for it. Take a look at this book, any book…