Is Preschool Right for Your Child?

The right preschool can be a meaningful experience for children, but that isn’t your only option. Preschool doesn’t have to be for everyone.

In some areas of the country, it seems that before a baby is even born, parents are scrambling to sign them up for the perfect preschool.

 "In turn, children are expected to perform at higher levels at younger ages."

It should come as no surprise that culture values education and achievement, but as new initiatives are rolled out by the government, the expectations for children continually increase. In turn, children are expected to perform at higher levels at younger ages.


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A recent study, entitled, “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?” compared kindergarten teachers’ attitudes nationwide in 1998 and again in 2010.  They found the percentage of teachers expecting children to know how to read by the end of the year had risen from 30 to 80 percent during that time period.


While some students leave kindergarten reading (and some even enter kindergarten reading), I can say as a former kindergarten teacher, it is not developmentally appropriate to expect that all students will learn to read that year. It puts unnecessary pressure and stress on children who are too young to know how to deal with it. And parents often feel anxiety that they—or the teacher—have done something wrong.


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A different author wrote a related article that was entitled, “The New Preschool is Crushing our Kids.” That is certainly a cringe-worthy title. There is much research to support children’s need to learn through play, exploration and conversation and, unfortunately, these things are being removed from the school day.


But I don’t think that every preschool experience is crushing children’s need for discovery and play.  Like anything else, it requires careful consideration of the facts and options, as well as what’s best for each individual child. (The above article provides some insight into what to avoid and what to look for in a quality preschool program.)


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It’s hard not to give into the cultural pressures of achievement and success. We all want what’s best for our children, but sometimes we aren’t always certain how to go about it. Early education is important, but it is not all there is. Preschool can be beneficial, but it doesn’t have to be for everyone. Conscientious parents who have intentional conversations with their children will prepare them to succeed in school.


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If you’re interested in some tangible ways you can boost your child’s school readiness, click to read “When to Start Preparing for Kindergarten”.

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Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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