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  • Should You Enroll Your Child In Preschool This Year? Expert Weighs In

    Remember, you are your child's best teacher.
    by Grace Bautista .
Should You Enroll Your Child In Preschool This Year? Expert Weighs In
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  • To enroll or not to enroll in preschool this year? Expert says your child won’t miss out if you don’t. At this stage, the most important skills children need to learn are not academic.

    The advantages of preschool education have been proven to last through one’s student life and adulthood. For example, a 2019 study that assessed fifth graders across six countries in Southeast Asia found that children who attended preschool showed higher learning achievement in Grade 5 for reading, writing and mathematics.

    Another study by the Learning Policy Institute in the US has found that people who attended high quality preschool attain higher levels of education and earnings as adults.

    However, we are in the middle of a pandemic now and all schools have shifted to distance learning mode.

    Preschool education in times of COVID-19 pandemic

    Two of the common questions among parents whose children are around preschool age by now are: Will preschool still be as beneficial to my kid? Should I enroll my child in an online or distance preschool program? 

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    Last week, I attended a webinar called “Should You Enroll Your Child in Preschool?” by Dr. Victoria Nolasco, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and mom to a two-year-old toddler.

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    My most important takeaway from this session: Don’t feel pressured to enroll your child in any academic program beyond what is mandated by the Department of Education. She emphasized that children will not miss out if they don’t go to preschool this year, especially if the kids are only three years old.

    Dr. Nolasco encourages parents to “teach” their children at home instead. And no, by teaching at home she does not mean giving your child worksheets to complete or flashcards to memorize. Rather, she encourages learning through play with mom (or dad).

    Here are more reasons your toddler/almost-preschool child will not miss out on learning if you decide not to enroll in preschool this year:

    You are your child’s best teacher

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    The early years are the best years for parents to connect with their child. Especially during this pandemic when you probably stay with your child more than you ever did before, there are no stronger adult influences in your child’s life than you. And you have what it takes to teach your child at home.

    According to Dr. Nolasco, what a child needs to learn at this point, they can learn from play and interactive conversations with their parents.

    Children learn best through play

    Children learn best through play and loving connections. Through play, young children are able to explore and learn about the world around them, and develop their creativity and imagination.

    Dr. Nolasco recommends unplugged, unstructured play as most beneficial. Giving your child simple, non-electronic toys like blocks, balls, toys that can be pushed or pulled, and even empty boxes can already engage them in significant times of learning and fun.

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    Play of this kind helps children develop skills in problem solving, reasoning and critical thinking. 

    Skills your child needs to learn at this stage

    There is much more to learning than just reading and writing. Children need to develop many foundational, unseen skills before they are able to do the 3Rs (reading, writing, 'rithmetic).

    Dr. Nolasco pointed out that learning social and emotional skills is to be prioritized during the preschool years. Children need to develop interactive language skills like engaging in conversation, following instructions, and looking at you when talking.

    They need to recognize sounds, have a solid routine, and learn emotional regulation fit for their age as well. These are social and emotional skills that will help your child navigate a formal learning environment with ease when it’s time to go to school.

    Of course, parents have different reasons and goals for wanting to enroll their children in preschool classes early. The points shared above are just one side of the coin. If you do decide to enroll your child in preschool, Dr. Nolasco also shared what parents need to look for to ensure your child gets high-quality preschool education.

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    In closing, Dr. Nolasco reminded all parents, “Whether you choose to enroll your child in distance learning or teach your child yourself, you will still play the most important role in your child's learning this year.”

    To know more about learning through play and understand more about your child’s development through the toddler and almost-preschool stages, visit Dr. Victoria Nolasco’s blog, effectivemommy.com, where she shares content and materials that can help parents teach and connect with their toddlers and help children love learning. 

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