A few days ago, I had a parent ask me what their child was learning in our classroom. When she had asked her son, he had replied with confidence, "nothing". After our conversation in which I had assured her that her child was learning something, I stopped to really think about it.
My first reaction was that we are learning about patterns, graphing, counting with one to one correspondence, rhyming, tracking, "reading" each other's names, writing our own names, practicing pencil grip and correct scissor grip, and… the list could go on and on.
While all of that is true, I realized that there are more important lessons I think the children are learning. According to researchers there are really important lessons, essential lessons, to learn in preschool.
Confidence – It takes a lot to be leader, to write and read the weather report and to stand in front of everyone to lead the goodbye song.
Independence – In how many other environments are children allowed to wander through a building without an adult beside them and make their own choices, reading the clues around them, about where and with whom to play, when to eat or not eat, when to go outside? Very powerful stuff.
Social skills - It takes some children out of their comfort zone to speak up for themselves, to ask to join someone else's work or to resolve a conflict by just talking it out.
A lot goes into our day. So if your child says he or she did nothing but played all day then I think we're doing our job. But when you watch and listen I hope you will get a glimpse into the many things they are learning. We hope that those “other” skills learned in preschool will form a foundation for future learning.
So thanks for the question, and anytime you're in the building, helping in the snack room or in the library, stop in and say hello, stay for circle time and watch for yourself as these wonderful children learn.
By Laura Nelson