Preschool for infants and toddlers? You might wonder if we’ve lost our mind somewhere along the way. The fact is, we are completely sane and are setting out to prove to you ways that preschools do, indeed, benefit infants and toddlers.
In fact, from infancy to the age of four are critical phases in childhood development. According to Montessori founder Dr. Maria Montessori, children in this age range are learning to react to stimuli in the environment, developing practical skills, mastering our language, and practicing mathematics by sorting objects into shapes and colors.
Because this developmental phase is active, it’s the ideal time to enroll your child in preschool to optimize this natural ability to learn.
Here are five surprising ways that a properly-implemented preschool program will benefit your little one.
#1 – Developing social skills
It possibly will surprise you to learn that how well-developed your child’s social skills become in early life will influence them later in life.
During the first months of life, you see baby beginning to smile, coo at the mirror, and giggle. These are natural developments that result from the need to be social. Baby wants to entertain you—and that other baby he sees in the mirror.
Attendance at preschool helps babies sharpen their social skill. Through their interactions with other children, they learn to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise. Each of those values will serve your child throughout life.
#2 – Mastering motor skills
During this time, most children become more ambulatory. Now walking steadily, they begin to run, hop, skip, and throw objects. These are your child’s gross motor skills.
While these motions can wreak havoc on your home, preschool programs foster—and in fact, encourage—the development of these motions.
Gross motor skills foster a love of exercise and carry forward into a lifelong of physical wellness. Some children even begin to show signs of excellence at certain sports—think of golf legend Tiger Woods playing golf at two years old.
#3 – Building language and reading skills
As you know, your child learned their first words by listening, interpreting what the sounds meant, then eventually verbalizing. It came naturally; of course, you encouraged it. However, children absorb language from around four months of age.
The very early years are when children best absorb linguistic concepts.
Were you required to study a foreign language at some point in your education? If you did, say in high school or college, it was likely a frustrating process. Typically, young children don’t display those frustrations. They just naturally begin to communicate.
Oddly enough, children who live in a dual-language household perform the same way—except in two languages. They fluently alternate between the two with little challenge.
Preschool includes opportunities for children to explore and master language through that same natural process. Programs also introduce reading in the same way that they learned to speak a language—by making books available, reading along with the children, and encouraging them as they reach milestones.
Children who build these essential language skills are great communicators who love to learn and excel at reading.
#4 – Applying mathematical concepts
Have you noticed that your baby loves to put together shape puzzles and sort objects out by color and size? Believe it or not, they are displaying the first signs of applying logic and basic mathematical concepts.
A preschool can transition a child from sorting to counting and even simple addition before they enter kindergarten—and without a punitive grading system that squelches enthusiasm.
Math challenges many students in the United States. The National Math + Science Initiative in Dallas estimates a mere 36% of American children graduate high school with college-ready math skills. This low performance stems from children fearing math. That alarming statistic underlines the need to foster math skills from a tender age.
Enrolling your infant or toddler in a preschool that builds on the young child’s natural interest in math spurs that curiosity, reinforces the principles they’ve mastered, and continues to build on that foundation of knowledge that your child can carry for life.
#5 – Becoming global leaders
Children in preschool gain firsthand exposure to other cultures. In the safety of the preschool setting, they most encounter children and teachers from backgrounds different from their own. They learn to accept and appreciate people in a way that helps children become global leaders.
In addition to meeting people who might look different than their family, children learn from preschool materials that introduce them to the world at large. Preschool classrooms celebrate diversity by including globes, maps, and even cultural art in their media.
So, you might be asking, “Why does that matter?”
Today, more than ever, the world seems to be “shrinking.” The internet closes the gap between continents and allows us to collaborate and conduct business across the globe with just a few clicks.
Moving into the future, high-paying, high-tech jobs will increase demand over the next few decades. High-tech workers will collaborate from around the globe. The ability to work together without prejudice, fear, or judgment will become a necessary job skill.
Does it not make sense to expose your children to those cultures and spark a curiosity about the world at large from infancy?
If you’ve been struggling with the idea of whether or not to place your child in preschool or a less formal daycare setting, you’re not alone. The notion of putting an infant in preschool might sound ludicrous at first glance. But, after you connect the early learning concepts to more advanced skills and knowledge, it all makes sense. Preschool benefits infants and toddlers.
If you’re interested in learning about the infant and toddler programs at Montessori School of Sugar Land, please schedule a tour. We want to meet you and learn more about that amazing child of yours.