How Does A High-Quality Kindergarten Prepare Children for School?
For children age below five, kindergarten is a necessary introduction to education away from home, or a preparatory ground where they are meant to be equipped and primed for the higher stages of formal education.
Kindergartens are not created equal, however; the quality of interactions, instruction, care, learning opportunities, materials, and so on, varies significantly between kindergartens, and the one you choose will no doubt impact the way your child is prepared for school.
There are early childhood programs that do a fantastic job of getting children ready for school, and then there are those that do a not-so-good (or even poor) job of it.
Our interest here is in learning how a kindergarten in the former group of high quality kindergartens actually prepares children for school. But first let’s consider what makes a kindergarten “high-quality.”
Some Key Features of a High-Quality Kindergarten
Beyond meeting the basic licensing requirements or standards of the country it operates within, you know a kindergarten is of high quality if:
1. The physical environment is rich
Whether it is indoors or outdoors, children thrive best in a physical setting where they can safely engage in purposeful play, exploration, and learning.
So a rich kindergarten environment is one carefully designed and purposely-built, as well as equipped, for indoor and outdoor play with materials that are not only engaging, but also suited to the children according to their stage of development.
2. Interpersonal communication is valued, emphasised, and tailored
Because teachers play a huge role in creating the experiences that mould the development of a child, high quality kindergartens take care to employ only well-trained educators who are skilled at tailoring their interactions to fit the needs of each child.
These teachers are distinguished by the warmth, respect and empathy with which they interact and respond to the needs of the children under their care.
3. The support structure is robust
A high-quality early childhood program features a highly functional operating environment, with capable leaders providing sound business management, and instructional support to the teachers.
A good program support structure also provides access to quality resources for improvement, professional development, as well as stable and sufficient funding.
4. The teachers care about building relationships with families
Because the most important people in a child’s life are parents, it’s necessary for kindergarten educators to also develop a trusting relationship with families, and not just with the child.
Teachers in a high-quality kindergarten fully recognise this fact, and try their best to build this relationship by listening to parents’ concerns and goals, encouraging their participation in their children’s education, periodically sharing information about the children’s learning and progress, etc.
How a High-Quality Kindergarten Makes Your Child School Ready
Now, unlike regular kindergartens that tend to stick to baseline standards and are mainly focused on protecting children from harm, high quality kindergartens go the extra mile when it comes to advancing child development and preparing them for school.
Here are some of the benefits your child will reap from a high quality kindergarten:
It instills the right “school attitude” in them
Children perform better in school when they start off with a positive attitude towards school and approaches to learning.
Since the experiences children have with educators during kindergarten tends to set the tone for their future interactions with teachers in school, your child has much better chances of developing the right “school attitude” if they attend a high-quality kindergarten where they have more quality experiences with their teachers.
It empowers them for academic excellence
When your child attends a quality kindergarten, they are exposed to several activities and ways of learning that enhance their academic abilities.
On a typical day, for example, educators at The Apple Tree Kindergarten guide the children through activities, games, and puzzles that significantly increase their ability to understand the concepts of counting, classifying, grouping, and organising; and so the children tend to quickly develop strong numerate skills.
A high-quality Kindergarten also plans and implements early literacy enhancing activities, such as the reading of age-appropriate books; drawing, writing or scribbling with pencils, pens, and crayons; all of which activities stimulate the children’s interest/ability in reading, writing and language.
These and other carefully curated components of a quality Kindergarten program go a long way towards helping children develop skills that will ensure their academic excellence when they start to attend school.
It ensures they are socially fit
Recall that one of the characteristics of high quality early childhood programmes is that they encourage interpersonal communication on a deeper level; such programmes also tend to give children more freedom to play and socialise with each other, and due to the level and frequency of these interactions with their peers and teachers, it becomes easier for the children to understand and appreciate diversity, leading to the enhancement of desirable social traits such as empathy.
Children who attend quality kindergartens usually also end up with other highly improved social skills such as confidence, and this means they are better able to navigate social situations, and develop stronger relationships when they enter school.
It enhances their personal, social and emotional development
The foundation for a child’s personal and emotional development is laid at the kindergarten stage. In high quality kindergartens such as The Apple Tree, educators help the children to develop a positive sense of themselves; the kids are also taught to manage/express their feelings appropriately, and to build up confidence in their own abilities. With this right foundation thus laid, the children find it easier to grow up into well-rounded individuals.
In conclusion, a high-quality kindergarten offers children several benefits in cognitive, social, emotional, and other areas of development, and better positions them to leverage the educational opportunities school provides.