Q: Is play the only activity in preschool?
A: Although play is a very important part of early childhood education, the typical preschool curriculum is far more rigorous than most adults realize.
Preschool education is jam-packed with developmental standards and milestones that children ages three and four should experience to prepare for kindergarten readiness.
Over the years, kindergarten has become more and more challenging for students. Some familiar examples include removal of nap time and a half day schedule. Due to the learning expectations, an Early Learning Outcomes Framework has been established which guides most preschool curriculum.
According to Common Core State Standards Curriculum, “educational standards are the learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Curriculum is a detailed plan for day-to-day teaching. Standards is what students need to know and be able to do, and curriculum is how students will learn it.”
Preschool is a critical component for children to thrive in kindergarten and their overall K-12 education.
Let’s take a closer look at a curriculum provided for three-year-olds in Head Start programs:
- Social Emotional: Balances needs and rights of self and others; solves social problems
- Physical: Demonstrates balancing skills
- Language: Uses an expanding expressive vocabulary
- Cognitive: Thinks symbolically; engages in sociodramatic play
- Literacy: Uses emergent reading skills; writes to convey meaning
Were some of these expectations surprising? Each year when I review the standards, I am awestruck at what young learners are capable of and the rigor preschool classrooms provide in education. I’m also reminded of how much fun and joy my four children experienced as preschoolers learning it all.
I’d love to hear your thoughts as we continue to explore preschool all month long.