To Preschool or Not to Preschool
Preschool education is the not-uncontroversial provision of education to very young children between the ages of zero or two and the age of five, before the child is set to begin mandatory education. Preschool is provided by many daycares but many private schools, especially Montessori, are able to provide preschool programs.
Private schools in particular offer superior programs that can substitute for any daycare program. Instead of paying an hourly rate for childcare, your child can actually receive early childhood education, pay tuition instead of daycare and come out relatively even (or even ahead, possibly). This option is underestimated or passed over by many parents.
Preschool’s proponents argue that it provides critical early stage grounding in personal, social and emotional development for children. Children learn to communicate better including speaking, listening and writing as well as interacting with others through play and learning together.
Preschool’s opponents say that it is most important for children to bond as much as possible with parents throughout their early years. There is some evidence that preschool is actually ineffective in giving children any kind of head start in school. 1 And there is other evidence that preschool’s long term benefits are at least questionable.2
Public preschool education
In Ontario there is full-day early learning for four and five year olds in the belief that this ensures that children get the best possible start in life and that this early start on education encourages them to grow up to be more creative thinkers and better problem solvers, more compassionate, engaged, and literate adults.
Ontario’s premiere Dalton McGuinty wants the province to be a world leader in this respect. Other provinces seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach (as of 2010) but there is full day early learning in some parts of some United States.
Daycare and Preschool in a Private School
Parents often forego considering preschool in a private school as a cheap alternative to daycare.
The average cost of daycare in Canadian provinces such as Ontario, British Columbia or Alberta is about $40 per child (or as high as $57 per day). This comes to over $800 per month, more expensive than preschool tuition at many private schools, notably Montessori schools. Preschools at private schools offer a more structured environment, with the preschool learning environment created by professional educators.
Of course, not only do parents save money on tuition, they also give their child a head start on school. This is even more attractive to parents who have children close in age, as many schools offer sibling discounts, while daycare programs quite often charge more rigidly on a per-child cost basis.
It’s quite understandable when parents are leery of preschool. Perhaps they simply want to keep their child(ren) at home. There are many benefits to keeping preschool-aged children as close as possible to their parents. On the other hand, though, preschool at a private school offers your child a wealth of educational benefits that will carry forward much later in life.
The decision to preschool or not is up to each family, but if you do decide to do so, as with any school or care choice, it’s important overall to consider a child’s particular needs and find the right environment to encourage success.
Give your kids the best school experience this year. Meet with top schools across the country this fall at the Our Kids Private School Expos: http://www.ourkids.net/expo/