What Do You Need To Know About Preschool?

Are you a first-time preschool parent? Before your child begins this magical milestone year, take a look at the top questions parents have about pre-k answered.

Does Your Child Have to Go to Pre-K?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 40 percent of three-year-olds, 68 percent of four-year-olds, and 84 percent of five-year-olds were in enrolled in a preprimary program in 2018. Even though the majority of four-and five-year-olds in the U.S. participate in formal early educational programs, it doesn't mean pre-k is mandatory.

While each state has its own educational rules and regulations, pre-kindergarten isn't a requirement in the United States. But this doesn't mean your child shouldn't participate in this type of program.

What Are the Benefits of an Early Childhood Education Program?

Why should your child go to preschool? Early childhood education experiences offer benefits galore. These include increased development across the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical domains. Along with these general areas, pre-k may help your child to build early academic skills (such as early literacy and math), improve critical thinking abilities, and make their first true friends.

Not only will your child build skills and develop in new ways, but they'll also prepare for kindergarten. As the first step into a formal education, pre-k introduces your child to the classroom environment.

How Old Are Preschoolers?

When should your child start pre-k? The specific start age depends on several factors. These may include the school's policy or age groupings and your child's readiness. In general, preschoolers are three- through five-years-old. But this doesn't mean your school of choice will enroll your newly turned three-year-old in the pre-k class. Ask your local schools what their policy is about age.

What Will Your Child Do in Preschool?

The answer to this question depends on the pre-k program, the school's curriculum, and the educator. Content areas your child may explore include literacy, math, science, social studies, and the arts (visual art, dance/movement, drama, and music). Specific activities may include anything from finger painting art projects to outdoor nature walks.

How Long Will Your Child Stay in Pre-K?

The length of time your child spends in the pre-k classroom depends on their start age, their developmental needs, the school's policies, and your local kindergarten's age requirements. If your child is three-years-old, they'll need to stay in pre-k for more than one year. But if they're an older four or are already five, it's likely they'll move on to kindergarten after one year of preschool. 

For more information about preschool, contact a school in your area.