If you think preschool is the snack-and-a-nap program you grew up with, think again. Preschools are very structured these days, and depending on how much parents are willing to plunk down for certain schools, the programs are downright aggressive. We’re assuming most of you don’t really want your 3-year-old to learn Latin, or expect your 4-year-old to know how to split an atom, so here's a basic program summary that will help you and your little one prepare for preschool.
Ready, set, play
Most preschools kick the day off with at least a half-hour of play. Maybe you think it's to help your child transition from home to school in a comfortable manner, but that has nothing to do with it. Preschool teachers are no dummies. They know if they are going to get your little ray of sunshine to focus for more than five minutes, they are going to have to let them burn off some energy!
Once tikes have wound down a bit, it's time for the next important thing in a child's day -- food. Here you can expect things like oatmeal, bananas, Cheerios, and blueberries. Sure beats that piece of cold pizza you grabbed on the way to work this morning, huh? Kind of makes you want to head back to preschool…
Arts and crafts
If this is your first year as a preschool parent, start practicing your excited reaction to puzzling art projects now. And stock up on refrigerator magnets -- you'll need them for display purposes. This time of day typically includes clay, crayons, paints, Play-doh or an intriguing combination of all these things.
This can take as much as an hour, because it takes at least 30 minutes to get a group of preschoolers to sit still in a circle. This time of day may include stories, calendar lessons, number lessons, reciting the alphabet, counting or stretching. Circle time is where the preschool teacher will determine if you've got a little Rhodes Scholar on your hands or if your little darling might benefit from one more year of preschool.
The remainder of the morning will include worksheets, cutting, maybe another craft or two and typically a rhyming game of some sort. There is only so much you can ask of this age group, so "filler" is quickly followed by…
Late morning recess
Time to get rid of the wiggles, part 2.
Again, this menu will make you long for the days when a nice adult brought you a well-rounded, nutritionally balanced, satisfying meal as opposed to what lunch means for you now -- which is choking down those stale chips in the bottom drawer of your desk.
See morning activities. Not surprisingly, afternoon activities will mimic the morning activities. Repetition is imperative at this age! Here you'll see more snacking, more arts and crafts, story time, a bit more learning, there will be a nap in there somewhere and the day will be rounded out with one more healthy bout of outside time.
Preschool is the perfect balance of fun, exercise, learning, resting and eating well. You and your little one have nothing to fear. Children build confidence and make friends in this environment. It goes without saying to get a recommendation when selecting a preschool, and then relax while your youngster settles into a routine they truly enjoy.