Preschool activities provide your child with learning experiences and skills that last a lifetime.

Cognitive Benefits of Preschool

by Michelle Fisk

Preschool is more than a way to get a few hours' break from "Mommy duty." A 2011 study published in “Science” tracked 100 children and determined that preschool education resulted in higher overall education and income -- which your kid will appreciate later on. Your child’s brain has critical periods of learning; if he's deprived of learning opportunities during that time, development is jeopardized. Preschool is pretty important for meeting these learning demands, and provides cognitive benefits that stay with your child well into his adult years -- which should make your daily "preschool" break even more satisfying.

1. Language Development

According to "Great Schools," a child’s vocabulary grows from 900 to 2,500 words between the ages of 3 and 5 and sentences become more advanced. If you're the parent of an inquisitive toddler, you already know this. Preschools provide an environment rich in language as teachers ask questions and introduce new words throughout the day. Your child has plenty of opportunities to interact with other children in various play settings, which can coax the shyest child out of her shell. Teachers also give students the chance to sing, read and talk about and act out stories all of which promote language and cognitive development.

2. Pre-Literacy and Math Skills

Your child is never too young to fulfill his destiny of becoming the next Hemingway or Einstein. The games and activities in a preschool classroom give your little one a fun way to develop pre-reading and pre-math skills. Singing rhymes and chants enables your youngster to pick up on sounds within words and singing the alphabet while reading a picture book shows your child there’s a connection between letters and words. Classrooms often have objects labeled to expose children to writing and some children may want to use magnetic letters to have their names spelled. The basis of math skills are numbers, sequences and categories which preschoolers begin to understand through matching, sorting, counting and board games.

3. Cognitive Control Skills

You probably know an adult who interrupts constantly and pays little attention to what others are saying. Annoying, right? It might be that this adult never went to preschool. Preschoolers learn cognitive control skills, which are basically how to behave appropriately in a classroom, enabling them to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Circle time in preschool teaches your youngster to pay attention to the teacher, listen when others are speaking and wait his turn to speak. A 2007 study published in “Science” found that kindergarten teachers deem self-discipline and attention more important than knowledge for school readiness.

4. Symbolic Thought

One of the most important cognitive developments in preschool is the ability to represent an object, action or event symbolically, or mentally. As this develops, you’ll notice your child engaging in more make-believe play or perhaps acquiring a make-believe, yet oh-so-real friend. The preschool classroom facilitates this skill because your child engages in pretend play with many different objects and peers. His play will progress from solitary, to one-on-one, to group play. The hands-on activities and more complicated play a preschool classroom provides also promotes curiosity, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

About the Author

Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.

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