preschool n : an educational institution for children too young for elementary school
Preschool education is the provision of education for children before the commencement of statutory education, usually between the ages of two and five, dependent on the jurisdiction. Preschool is also known as nursery school, day care or kindergarten (other than in the USA, where kindergarten is part of the statutory education system, preceding first grade).
The areas of development which preschool education covers varies from country to country. However the following main 'themes' are represented in the majority of systems.
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication, including talking and listening
- Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Creative and aesthetic development
- Physical development
- Mathematical awareness and development
Ages for and importance of preschool education
Preschool is generally considered appropriate for children between three and five years of age, between the toddler and school stages. During this stage of development, children learn and assimilate information rapidly, and express interest and fascination in each new discovery. These qualities make them prime candidates for education, although most are not ready for structured primary or elementary education.
Aspects of preschoolers' abilitiesFor four- and five-year-olds, the average vocabulary span is between 1500 and 2000 words. One word concept that becomes very confusing to the preschool age students is metaphorical statements, which are those phrases that explain something figuratively but not realistically. An example is “when pigs fly”; if you say this a preschooler will picture a pig actually flying.
Mathematical skills also come into use a great deal at this age. Preschoolers begin to recognize numbers better and understand the concept of numbers and their use. Rote counting, the ability to recite numbers in their proper order, is a very popular part of the curriculum for this age.
They like to do more things on their own. They love to help with anything they can and have responsibility. At this age their coordination has improved a lot and their body proportions have changed. They also become responsible for their own simple hygiene.
Methods of preschool educationParents are a child's best resource for education before school. Research shows that the more time and effort parents, caregivers, or teachers at preschools give to the child, the better a preschool child will be able to adjust to their environment.
Some preschools have adopted specialized methods of teaching, such as Montessori, Waldorf, High Scope, The Creative Curriculum Reggio Emilia approach, Bank Street and various other pedagogies which contribute to the foundation of education.
In the United States most preschool advocates support the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Developmentally Appropriate Practices. Universal Preschool is the notion that access to preschool should be available to families in a similar way as Kindergarten. There are different perspectives on priorities for access and how it is to be funded.