How do I Choose the Best Preschool Curriculum for my Child?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Choosing the best preschool curriculum is a topic which evokes lots of opinions, and there may be no one best solution for every kid. Age of entering preschool or learning at home varies. Parents might try to enroll kids at school or homeschool when kids are as young as three, meaning there’s a vast difference in cognitive/emotional readiness. It’s important that a curriculum reflects the age and cognitive/emotional development of the child. From that perspective, choices get highly individualized.

There are several things to consider when selecting a preschool curriculum for a child.
There are several things to consider when selecting a preschool curriculum for a child.

Preschool builds kindergarten readiness. Now, it is often assumed children will enter kindergarten with pretty good social skills, and with ability to identify the alphabet and numbers. This is a change from previous times where these things were learned in kindergarten.

Some preschools put an emphasis on fundamental skills.
Some preschools put an emphasis on fundamental skills.

A preschool curriculum addressing these standards may approach them differently. Two main ways are to pre-design lessons that will teach these topics or use more organic “teachable” moments to get the lessons in through a child’s interest. The second is espoused in a few school programs, and the first may be found in more traditional pre-schools. In the home setting, playing off the child’s interest can be more advantageous and the parent’s superior knowledge of a child’s development suggests where to start.

Because children progress at different rates, child development milestones may be seen as general guidelines.
Because children progress at different rates, child development milestones may be seen as general guidelines.

From the point of interest, a preschool curriculum might progress in the following way. A child crazy about trucks will naturally find an alphabet more interesting if it’s covered in trucks; stickers work well to dress up a plain alphabet sheet. Counting skills could begin by counting the trucks that drive down the street. Socialization skills might mean meeting a friend and playing with trucks in a local park. It’s fine to teach to several interest areas, but there is significant agreement that more is learned when less is “taught,” when learning arises not from rigidity but from a child’s natural interest.

A preschool curriculum is also an opportunity to explore many other things that due to higher demands in standardized schools may be less available. For instance, many kindergarten teachers have less time, despite some of them offering full day classes, to give education in things like music or art. Given that these can be enjoyable, people might want to add these to a preschool curriculum. Socialization skills may be even more vital, especially if a child has not been to daycare. Having plenty of opportunities to learn what it means to be with other children is highly advised.

When people are considering preschool curriculum as means of choosing a school, they might consider these suggestions. They can look at how rigid curriculum is. The bigger and more standardized the school, the less likely it will be tailored to the interests of one child or offer flexibility. This is unfortunate since developmentally, children of this age are unlikely to be on the same page. Another thing that might be attractive are schools that offer children opportunities to direct some of their activities. As children practice readiness for kindergarten, being able to choose some activities may promote independence and development of individual strengths.

Alphabet rhymes help children learn the letters of the alphabet.
Alphabet rhymes help children learn the letters of the alphabet.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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