There’s a growing trend toward keeping children home and educating them using online education programs instead of sending them to a physical preschool. With the attraction of preschool education at a lower cost, thousands of parents are signing up. While the reports show that most of the children make good academic progress, their learning is limited to ‘narrow functions’ such as knowing the alphabet, identifying colors and counting. But does online education fulfill all the educational and developmental needs of a preschooler?
Preschoolers Learn on The Go
Preschoolers learn best on the move. They learn using all five senses – including taste, much to the dismay of every mom who has had to pull a bug out of their child’s mouth! They learn with their bodies as much as their minds. They absorb knowledge through doing, feeling, experimenting. Every playtime is a chance for another layer of knowledge and experience to be added to the growing database in their brains.
Fun & Friendship
The social development of a preschooler begins in the home with family, but blossoms when they are put into a balanced school environment with their peers. Here, they learn to work through conflict and how to resolve arguments peacefully. They discover how great it is to have a friend and what it means to be one. Friendships formed at school can continue to grow outside of school as well. Children learn to work in groups and tolerate one another, to share, to value others. They learn how to listen and how to speak up in a crowd. Shy children learn to be brave and extroverts learn to share the spotlight. None of these essential life-skills can be internalized through clicking a mouse button.
Moving and The Mind-Brain Connection
The average, healthy, preschooler has loads of energy that should be directed into activities that strengthen their muscles, develop their coordination and balance, create vibrant neuromuscular pathways and fuel their desire to interact with the world around them. If all that energy is regularly suppressed and forced to sit in a chair, staring at a screen for long periods of time, it doesn’t benefit the child. A child with copious amounts of unused energy can struggle to concentrate.
School Readiness – More Than Numbers and Letters
One objective of a Preschool facility is to get children ready for ‘elementary school’. This goes far beyond sprouting the alphabet or rattling off numbers. It has to do with a child’s ability to follow instructions, hold a crayon correctly, wait their turn and raise a hand for the teacher’s attention.
Raising A Child in A Digital Age
Considering all this, is it better to avoid screen time altogether? Not necessarily. Our children are growing up in a world dominated by technology and it’s better to equip them and teach them to manage their use of it safely than try to shield them from it altogether.
Chip Donohue, director of the Technology in Early Childhood Center at the Erikson Institute, says, “I think [technology] should always be a companion. We have tools that are 24/7 learning in our hands. I’m all for that. But I would worry if we thought it was appropriate for all kids to not have to be in an early childhood environment where they’re learning social skills and how to get along with others and grit and resilience.”
Want to See Your Child Get Ahead?
The best thing you can do, as a parent, is to continue to read books to your child. Have conversations with them, listen to them when they speak, ask questions that will help them think for themselves and enroll them in a good preschool. Ultimately, you want your child to mature as a whole person and not be stunted in their growth physically, emotionally or mentally.