Why I Don’t Care about Preschool Academics

I Don't Care about Preschool AcademicsMy daughter is going to start going to preschool at the beginning of September. I choose a park district program very close to my house, simply for convenience. The facility is nice, the teacher-student ratio is small, and I now she is going to love her time to explore and learn.

But I was taken aback when the preschool teacher began talking to me about the “curriculum.”

“Do you have an questions about our academics?”

I get it. I know teachers in Kindergarten these days are teaching early reading. But preschool should still be for fun! 

I guess I did not realize how much school has changed since I was a kid until I picked up The Berenstain Bears Go to School recently. It was published first in 1981, a few years before I went to kindergarten. In this book, Sister Bear is preparing to go to kindergarten for the first time. When the book showed pictures of the kindergarten room, I was surprised to notice that her kindergarten had coloring and painting easels, clay on the tables, play time with toys and dress up, and having story time with teacher. It looked just like what I imagine Strawberry’s preschool classroom to look like.

As I read it to Strawberry, I changed the word “kindergarten” to “preschool” whenever I read about Sister Bear.

This is what preschool is like today. Too bad we can't go back to 1981 so kids can have this in kindergarten!
This is what preschool is like today. Too bad we can’t go back to 1981 so kids can have this in kindergarten!

My understanding is that such play is not what kindergarten is like today.

Kindergarten has changed preschool into the new kindergarten. I think it’s too bad. I saw this article today and I felt it was right on track as to what is wrong with pushing learning too soon.

Since I’m going to homeschool from kindergarten on (and maybe after one year of preschool), I feel a bit of relief at the flexibility I have in letting my daughter learn when she is ready. For that reason, here’s what I see the point of preschool as:

  • help my daughter learn to share
  • provide a safe environment beyond the home in which my daughter can feel love and friendship
  • expose my daughter to new people, toys, and themes
  • promote independence in my little girl as she learns to take care of herself and play without Mom nearby
  • give my daughter a chance to learn to listen to an authority figure other than Mom

Anything learning beyond those basic life lessons seem like icing on the cake! So for these reasons, I do not care about the preschool academics lesson plan. Preschool should not be about academics but about exploration!

Have you read The Berenstain Bears Go to School? Did you notice how different the kindergarten classroom seemed to be from the kindergarten rooms of today? Do you worry about academics in your child’s preschool?

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  • I haven’t sent either of my girls to preschool (they are 8 and almost 3) but almost everyone here in Malaysia does. It is very hard to find a preschool here that is not heavy on academics, it’s pretty crazy. My 8 year old was resistant in learning to read. We went slowly and I pushed some when I felt it was necessary, but I didn’t worry about it. Sometime after 6 1/2 it clicked for her and she has been an avid reader ever since. I’m guessing she reads at about a 5th grade level now. If she had been in a “traditional” learning environment she may have felt stressed or that she wasn’t a good reader and that could have become true. Instead she blossomed in her own time and has become an excellent reader.

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