Preschool education is the provision of education for children before the commencement of statutory education, usually between the ages of two and five, dependent on the jurisdiction. Preschool is also known as nursery school, daycare or kindergarten (other than in the USA, where kindergarten is part of the statutory education system, preceding first grade).
- Personal, social and emotional development
- Communication, including talking and listening
- Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Creative and aesthetic development
- Physical development
- Mathematical awareness and development
Ages for and importance of preschool education
Preschool is generally considered appropriate for children between three and five years of age, between the toddler and school stages. Children in this age range are also called pre-school children. During this stage of development, children learn and assimilate information rapidly, and express interest and fascination in each new discovery. These qualities make them prime candidates for education, although most are not ready for structured primary or elementary education.
Universal preschool is an international movement that has made access to preschool available to families in a similar way to compulsory elementary education. Various jurisdictions and advocates have differing priorities for access, availability and funding sources.
Methods of preschool education
Parents are a child's best resource for education before school. Research shows that the more time and effort parents, caregivers, or teachers at preschools give to the child, the better a preschool child will be able to adjust to their environment.
Some preschools have adopted specialized methods of teaching, such as Montessori, Waldorf, High Scope, The Creative Curriculum Reggio Emilia approach, Bank Street and various other pedagogies which contribute to the foundation of education.
In the United States most preschool advocates support the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Developmentally Appropriate Practices.
Preschool and spanking
As a rule, preschools tend to avoid corporal punishment because children below school age are considered too young to be corporally disciplined by caretakers in an away-from-home situation — even if the caretakers have in loco parentis rights and responsibilities in other respects. Time-out chairs and similar punitive devices are more commonly used in preschools. Slaps or smacks given to children in preschool, if any, will normally be informal, light (appropriate for their age) and only with the open hand, without any implements. Exceptions to that rule occasionally become known as news scandals as they are considered physical child abuse (see the news archives on World Corporal Punishment Research for examples). Religious (e.g. Christian or Islamic) kindergartens, and those that belong to orphanages and similar institutions, may on average have a somewhat stricter regimen than other preschools.
In countries where school corporal punishment is completely banned, this ban will normally apply to preschools as well. In countries where all spanking of children is banned, such a nation-wide ban applies to all areas.
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