What can you expect your preschooler to learn in a daycare center? Your three, four, or five-year old is ready to start child care. But you're not sure what they'll do during the pre-k day. Take a look at what parents need to know about preschools, early childhood education, and learning in the daycare setting.
Do All Child Care Centers Have the Same Curriculum?
No, every child care center doesn't have the same curriculum plan. But this doesn't mean that you won't find similarities. Some centers create a curriculum from scratch, while others may use a ready-made plan. Ready-made curriculum plans are typically based on early childhood research and should fit the local or state licensing requirements for daycare programs.
To learn more about the curriculum your child's center uses, talk to the director. The director can provide a general overview of the plan and help you to understand how it will affect your child's learning and development.
Will the Program Include Academic Content?
While every center has some differences in specific content, most will include basic academics. This doesn't mean your child will have a formal math period or learn how to read chapter books. Instead, the preschoolers will explore early mathematics, early literacy, science, social studies, and other similar topics in age or developmentally-appropriate ways. These could include the use of math manipulatives (math toys or similar items that encourage hands-on learning), story-times, book-handling activities, science experiments, or group discussions.
The academic content in pre-k programs prepares young students for kindergarten and beyond. This provides a foundation that your child will build on as they move through their early educational years.
Will the Program Include the Arts?
Along with academics, most preschools also include creative arts content. This includes visual arts such as painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture and the performing arts (drama, music, and dance or creative movement). A pre-k program may have specific art or activity times/periods, use a free-play approach, or integrate the arts into other content areas. Arts-integrated activities could include drawing the result of a science experiment, sculpting letters, or creating a number/math collage.
What Else Will Preschoolers Learn In Care?
Early childhood programs also help preschoolers to build valuable social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills, such as:
- Social skills. Preschoolers may learn how to take turns, share, communicate in a group, or make new friends.
- Emotional skills. These include emotional identification and expression.
- Physical skills. The students will build both fine (hand and finger) and gross (large muscle) abilities.
- Cognitive skills. This area includes memory/recall, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
Again, talk to the director about the curriculum and how it reinforces each content or developmental area when researching a daycare center near you.