Super Futures! 6 Things Top Preschools Do for Children
By Cheryl Flanders
If you clicked on this article, chances are you’re facing a tough choice—where your little love bug will spend his or her days when you go back to work. There’s a lot to consider. Will he be safe? Will she make friends? Will he be well-prepared for kindergarten and beyond?
Naturally, there are no cut-and-dry answers when it comes to choosing the perfect child care fit for your family. After all, every family is different—and you know what works for your child better than anyone else.
Here’s something to note: There’s actually tons of evidence that top early education programs have real benefits for young children.
- Classrooms are where friendships bloom… Pals, buds, playmates: Nothing is cuter than friendships among the preschool set, but they’re also important for a child’s independence, self-confidence, and self-esteem. In fact, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has found that children enrolled in early education programs more easily form relationships with adults and kids alike. After all, in classroom setting and under the guidance of a caring teacher, kids get lots of practice.
- ...and social-emotional skills flourish. Whether she's bookish or boisterous, when your child is interacting with other children, her social-emotional skills (like sharing, cooperation, patience, empathy, and respecting others) are getting an early boost.
- Top educators spark curiosity! Early education teachers are special people with great big hearts. They know how to spark your child’s natural curiosity, encourage him to explore new ideas, and develop a strong sense of self. And that kind of love lays the seeds for a lifelong love of learning!
- There’s always fun (and hidden learning) to be had. The best learning happens when kids don’t even know they’re learning (in other words, when they’re having FUN!). Games, songs, dress-up boxes, art, and stories frequently used in top early education programs keep children entertained while immersing them in pre-literacy and pre-math activities.
- Kids develop a positive attitude about diversity. We live in an increasingly global world, and as your future scientist/artist/athlete plays with other children, she’ll be surrounded by people who aren’t just like her. And that’s a good thing!
- Higher test scores go hand in hand with top early education centers. Research from NAEYC found that kids who attend a high-quality early childhood education program test higher in language and math skills than their peers. And that gives them a great start in kindergarten!
So how you do know if the center you’re considering is among the best? First of all, make sure the center is independently accredited. (You’ll usually find the accreditation seal on the front windows—and when you see it, you’ll know that center has earned a mark of excellence in care and education.) If you’ll allow us one small brag here: Nationally only about 10 percent of child care centers are independently accredited, but nearly 100 percent of KinderCare centers are—something we’re pretty proud of!
And of course, spend as much time as you need talking with the teachers and the center director. Your relationships with your child’s caregivers are deeply important. You want to make sure that the teachers are open, friendly, respectful, and knowledgeable—and that they make a real connection with you and especially your child. After all, these teachers will be his second family and you want your center to feel, well, like a real home away from home.