Preschool is one way to gently introduce children to a school setting. When school is viewed as inviting and tempting, a love of learning is more likely to develop. Preschool is appropriately a time for children to explore, feed their curiosity, take initiative, and build a sense of competence and self-esteem. It is not the time to focus on outcomes and achievements or to compare similarities and differences in specific performances.

Children under the age of five are not emotionally, cognitively, or socially ready for the formal instruction that occurs in grade schools. Children are about six years old before they can follow adult reasoning, use memory with intention, grasp abstract concepts, and have the self-control required to sit still and focus.

However, their level of ability doesn’t mean preschoolers should not be given the opportunity to exercise their developing mental muscle. Young children can begin learning to read, add and subtract, and recognize plants and animals. What’s most important, though, is that preschoolers climb, paint, build, dance, sing, dig, pretend, pound, pour, laugh, and play with friends. A preschool that feeds a child’s imagination and creativity is providing a developmentally appropriate experience. How nice that what is best for your preschooler is also lots of fun. Children are working hard when they play!