Preschool Programs – Play or Academic?

RNS Academy Pre-school children

The question of whether a preschool program should be play based or “academic” has always been an overwhelming concern for parents who are searching for their child’s first early education program.

We know that cognitive development, how children think, process information and use that information to solve problems, is based on their interactions with the people and environment around them. For this reason, it has always been my opinion that the question parents should be asking is not, is your program play based or academic, but, what is the background of your staff members. The more important question, I believe, is does your staff understand a child’s development and are they able to engage that child regularly with activities that are nurturing, rich in academic content, and presented with developmental milestones in mind.

In other words, it isn’t what content or topic is being taught or presented, but rather, how the information is presented. Topics taught thematically and in a hands-on structure allow children to “play”, explore, question and learn. The addition of a nurturing environment lays the ground work for young minds to excel in all aspects of early development.

Understanding the Developmental Continuum of Skills, lays a foundation for early education teachers to understand how young children develop and gives them the tools to create a content rich environment that is developmentally appropriate. Each of the following skills offers a list of appropriate behaviors during each stage of development.

  1. Social/Emotional
  2. Physical
  3. Language/Literacy
  4. Mathematics/Reasoning
  5. Social Studies
  6. Science
  7. Creative

The list of skills is not used as a guideline for what your child should be doing, all children develop at a difference pace, but as a resource for teachers to introduce activities that are appropriate for where your child’s development is at any given time.

Overwhelmingly research continues to show that regardless of age, all children can learn and be taught, as long as the content is introduced appropriately and with the knowledge of where a child is on their developmental map. With the integration of thematic units, hands-on activities and understanding of the Developmental Continuum of Skills, RNS is able to provide its students with a program that addresses the whole child on their level.

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