As a Maui Mama, the hunt for choosing the right preschool began long ago when my son was just a year old. There were many thoughts going around in my head – should I choose one based on distance, curriculum, the environment, and of course – Can I afford it? These are the questions I shared with my husband one day. In our conversation he asked me, “What’s so special about sending your child to preschool?” Upon hearing this, I laughed as my husband was mocking me in good fun because by degree I am a Preschool Teacher. I went on to share with him the benefits of preschool, and how it lays the foundations for school success. A child who has the opportunity to go to preschool will learn many basic life experiences as well as receive the academic foundations for subjects they will incur during their elementary school years and beyond.
Children who attend preschool acquire the basic self-help skills for life and develop healthy behaviors towards self-care. Preschoolers also use their gross motor skills by balancing, jumping, and kicking and fine motor skills by cutting, playing with puzzles, and coloring. Preschool is a great place to have essential social experiences. Children start to understand feelings, develop positive relationships with adults, and learn positive behaviors which promote problem solving and cooperative play. Preschoolers start to learn literacy skills by hearing their teacher read a story and drawing their own books. They can initiate conversations as they learn hundreds of new words each week. 3 and 4 year olds become exposed to math concepts through numbers, shapes, and measurement. Additionally, the children love the science center with colors, plants, and of course bugs!
Aside from academia, preschoolers learn to explore and get creative both through the arts and social studies. They have fun pretending to be mommy or daddy in the house centers. They start to understand themselves and those around them – height, weight, and cultural identity. Children often put their observations of life on paper. They use different mediums such as paints and crayons. And of course they love music! Music and movement helps them express their emotions and is a great release for the energy they carry.
Preschool can be a world of its own! It promotes school readiness and supports a young child’s brain development. If you ever want to learn more about preschool, just visit one. Many of our preschools here on Maui will welcome you to visit their centers and learn more about them. If you need a list of preschools in your area, PATCH can provide you one at no cost. PATCH also has a financial assistance program called Preschool Open Doors. They accept applications during open enrollment from March 1st to April 30th. There are also several other subsidy agencies which you can find here in the Maui Mama magazine in the financial aid section or you can call PATCH for that list as well.
As for our family; my husband, son, and I did visit a preschool in our neighborhood that we liked very much. He’s been accepted and will attend in the fall. A new step for our little guy, but a step in the right direction!