The preschool years are one of the most important stages of life.
Learning that occurs in this “window of opportunity” has a life-long impact. You have likely noticed how your child has grown this past year. But it may be hard to know how much and how important it is. What have they learned while attending preschool?
Physical growth and development can be measured. Cognitive growth becomes noticeable with your child’s increased vocabulary and reasoning abilities. However, social-emotional growth, while equally apparent, may be overlooked. Social-emotional development is now seen as the most important aspect of education, starting in preschool. While children learn much from the example they see at home, at preschool they can practice and perfect these skills. Their teachers guide them in this process.
At this age, children are learning to manage their feelings and follow limits and expectations. As they enter the preschool setting, they make friends and can participate cooperatively and constructively in group situations. Managing classroom rules, routines and transitions sets the stage for this process.
Some of the milestones children obtain in regulating their own emotions are the ability to look at a situation differently and delay gratification. As their emotional competence grows, children can work cooperatively in a group and sustain positive relationships. Not only can they share materials in the classroom and outside, they can suggest solutions to social problems. This evolves into the development of empathy and the ability to solve conflicts.
Children who exhibit healthy social-emotional development are more likely to have good academic performance in school. Brain research indicates that emotion and cognition are strongly interrelated processes. Cognitive processes such as decision making, paying attention, and fulfilling goals are affected by emotions.
While there is much more for your child to learn and practice in all areas of life, it is important to appreciate how your child has grown and developed in this important stage in life.