As I look around the room today on my first day as a substitute preschool teacher, I see so many positive things going on. So many lessons being learned at every instant. You may have wondered, what is preschool exactly? What do they do all day?
What is preschool?
Preschool is an optional educational experience for children between ages three and five that can prepare students for their first years in elementary school. While optional, preschool has been shown to be very beneficial.
In her book, The Preschool Journey, Angela Thayor stated, “The human brain develops most rapidly between birth and age 5 making the preschool years a crucial part of a child’s education.” Even though preschool is not mandatory, there are still many standards that facilities must maintain and there are usually thorough inspections.
A preschool typically focuses on repetition and daily review of things such as the days of the week, numbers, months of the year, counting, letters of the alphabet, and lots of social interaction and play.
What do they do all day?
A typical day in a preschool begins with the children being signed in by their parents and putting their backpacks and lunches/snacks (if not provided by the school) away. They may even start in a cafeteria for breakfast. Once everyone has been signed in, the class may share a little bit about what they are looking forward to that day, evening, or weekend. Then, the students may join the teacher at a visual calendar where they recite the days of the week (today is Thursday, yesterday was Wednesday, tomorrow is Friday) and they may count the days on the calendar and watch the teacher write the day’s date on the whiteboard saying it aloud with him/her.
Next, the class may play a few games or sing a few songs about letters of the alphabet or a new word that they are going to practice and focus on that day. The teacher will almost always use some type of visual along with auditory clues and mnemonics for memorization. It is also common to do some sort of art project to get the students to practice cutting, gluing, or coloring. They may also have some sort of more formal music or physical education class where they work on rhythm or special awareness.
They will have a lunch time and a recess time which are both very important for socializing with other students and learning to get along with others while stepping outside of the formal routine of the classroom. Much of the day may also be used for free choice in the classroom. This could include pretend cooking in a play kitchen, reading various books or having adults read to them, playing dress up, playing with cars and trucks, or building with blocks, magnets, or play-dough.
The question, “what is preschool,” can be answered as a place where children get their first educational experience away from home. They can learn to share and communicate more effectively with people who are different and learn how to be a responsible citizen of a community. It is where kids can get a head start on knowledge to prepare them for elementary school.