When your child is approaching the age of three, it might be time to start thinking about preschool. Preschool is not currently required for kids, but it can be helpful and fun for kids between the ages of three and five. As you begin looking for a preschool, you may find that there are two main types. One type offers play-based learning, while the other offers academic-style learning. If you are trying to decide between the two, here are three factors you should think about.
How Each Type Works
There is a big difference in the way a play-based preschool operates compared to one that is based on academics, and the main difference is the way the kids spend their time. In a play-based preschool, kids learn by playing. They are given a variety of different toys and stations to use for play, and they are often free to choose what they would like to play with.
This encourages the kids to play with things that interest them, and the philosophy is that the children will be learning as they are playing. Because playing is fun, kids may develop a love for learning. This can especially be true if the kids are given educational types of toys that help them solve problems, use their imaginations, and interact socially with other kids.
In a preschool that uses an academic approach to learning, the kids may still have time to play; however, most of what they learn will be through hands-on teaching. This will include lectures (in a style appropriate for young kids), completing papers, using flashcards, and reading.
Academic-based programs have atmospheres that are very controlled and structured. Kids are taught all the things they will need to know for kindergarten, and they are typically graded on their skills and development.
The Personality Of Your Child
As you consider the differences in these options, you should also carefully consider the personality and learning style of your child. Each option can encourage kids to learn; however, all kids are different. What works for one child may not be the best option for another, which is why you must spend some time thinking about which environment would be better for your child.
If your child enjoys sitting still, reading books and learning, an academic-based program might be more suitable for him or her. On the other hand, if your child is busy and likes learning through playing, a play-based program could be the best choice for him or her.
What Research Suggests
There has been a lot of research conducted in this area, but there is still no consensus as to which is better. Some experts believe that play-based learning for preschool kids is the best method, because it places kids in an atmosphere that is natural for them. Preschool kids love to play, and this is one of the ways they learn things. These experts also believe that when kids are pushed academically when they are this young, it could cause them to have negative perceptions and opinions about learning.
Other experts believe that there must be a balance between play-based learning and academic learning. In other words, neither type if best for kids. Kids need an environment with both aspects present. It's hard to say which is actually better for kids, especially because of the inherent differences in kids.
Before you enroll your child in preschool, you may want to consider this difference in learning styles. When you decide which type would be best for your child, you can begin looking for a preschool in your area that offers this type of program. For more information, check out places like Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center.