Day 193 - Preschool

Day 193 – Preschool (Photo credit: Karin Beil)

Recently, I decided to send my 3 year old son to preschool five days a week. Admittedly, these sessions are only three hours long but I have worried about whether it is a good idea or not. I feel particularly guilty about the one session I send him when I am at home rather than at work although having three hours to myself is amazing. My son seemed to be really happy going to preschool, until the week before half-term when for the first time he cried when I left him. I found out during half-term that two of the 4 year old boys at his preschool had told him he wasn’t allowed to play with a rocket and called him poo the previous week. I think this pretty common when children are that age but that doesn’t make it easier for my son. Fortunately, during half-term I had time to talk to him about how he can deal with the situation if it happens again. It does make me worry about how vulnerable he is at 3 years old though and whether he is ready to deal with playground name-calling. So what does research have to say about preschool?

The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) project investigated the effects of preschool education and care on children’s development for children aged 3-7 years old. They used 3,000 children and followed them from 3 years old until 7 years old. They found that individual pre-schools varied in their ‘effectiveness’ for influencing a child’s development. The quality of the provision in the preschool was a very important factor. Children made more progress in pre-schools with highly qualified and experienced staff. Preschools were also more effective if they had clear discipline strategies where the staff talked through conflicts and poor behaviour with the children. Preschools were less effective when they did not follow up on children’s misbehaviour or just distracted children or told them to stop. The study also found that children who had attended good preschools had better social and intellectual development than children who had not even up to 7 years old (when the study ended). Whether children attended part-time or full-time did not seem to affect the children’s development. Perhaps I need to stop feeling guilty about sending my son to preschool full-time. Tomorrow my son is back to preschool but I have now spoken to them about keeping an eye out for any name-calling.

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