Preschool is becoming a prerequisite for kindergarten. Some of the simple toys in the preschool classroom are teaching much more. Not only are these toys teaching children their shapes, colors and numbers.
It may be a simple puzzle, but it’s indicative of how preschool has changed. In days past, being a preschooler meant going to a big room with lots of other kids.
The day would be filled with playing with toys, making some new friends, taking a nap, eating a snack or two and waiting for Mom and Dad to pick you up.
Today’s preschooler is learning to speak a foreign language, learning sign language, reading and learning basic math. There’s still some time left for playing and making friends.
Shelley Doerschuk, an instructor in education at Malone University in Canton said that several major changes have occurred in preschool classrooms in the past decade. Changes range from enhanced curriculum to teaching new safety issues to new professional standards for preschool teachers.
One of the major changes is the implementation of a more rigorous curriculum.
“The focus for preschool today is to get the children ready to be learners,” Doerschuk said. “Preschool teaching is more literacy-based. It’s about getting the kids ready to read and teaching them mathematical reasoning.”
Education is changing, in part, because the world is changing. The youngest generation is growing up immersed in technology, so the little learners are learning to embrace it.
“The use of technology is different in preschool,” Doerschuck said. “Most preschools have their kids using a computer or some sort of electronic device in the classroom.”
Rick Beechy owns Goddard School for Early Childhood Learning in Uniontown and Karen Marinos owns a Goddard School in Jackson Township. Both have seen a stronger emphasis on learning starting at age 3.
“Preschoolers starting at ages 3 or 4 are learning things that older people didn’t learn until they were 5- or 6-years-old,” Beechy said.
Goddard schools place emphasis on three areas of learning: Emotional, social and developmental.Curriculum is adapted to meet the needs of each individual child.
The curriculum used at Goddard includes language arts, physical fitness, mathematical thinking, science and technology, creative arts, music and movement, social studies and personal and social development.
Enhanced studies at Goddard include teaching sign language and foreign language, manners, fitness, nutrition and art and music.
“We don’t use workbooks and coloring books,” Beechy said. “We use play-and-learn activities to teach the kids. Offering developmental learning at a younger age makes learning easier as they get older.”