The Super Cool Guide to School

What Kids Really Learn in Preschool

It may seem like a lot of fun and games, but your child is actually learning important lessons as he plays.

Story corner: Just by listening and watching her teacher read Go, Dog, Go! your child is becoming familiar with basic literacy concepts, like reading left to right, and what words and letters are. Sometimes, if you walk by the book corner, you'll see preschoolers "reading" by turning the pages and narrating what they see -- a great precursor to real reading.

Puzzle table: Legos, and puzzles, and beads -- oh, my! Children improve their fine motor skills, concentration, and hand-eye coordination when they play these games. Working independently also gives them practice problem solving.

Sand/water table: The tools and toys help teach science concepts like cause and effect. Since there's no right or wrong with these materials, kids feel a sense of success when they play with them.

Science projects: The class hamster is a great tool for kids to observe living things and learn what they need to grow. Other science tools like scales and magnifying glasses allow kids to examine, experiment, predict, question, and problem-solve.

Circle time: Learning to sit patiently, saying good morning, and talking about the day's events is a key part of your child's day. This preschool town meeting gives her important practice for the skills she'll need to master for kindergarten.

Art area: Crayons, markers, safety scissors, glue, and paintbrushes are all great tools for mastering fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. And children love to talk about their artwork -- it gives them practice with language and self-expression.

Block area: What isn't your child learning? She's gaining basic math skills when she counts them, identifies their shapes, and compares their sizes. Building houses, roads, and forts helps her hone spatial skills that will be helpful for geometry and physics later on.

Outdoor play: It looks like chaos, but all that activity helps kids learn what their bodies can do. Children need to move and experiment to master balance, improve coordination, and develop their muscles. Group activities on the playground also teach kids cooperation.

Sources: Debbie LeeKeenan, director, Eliot-Pearson Children's School at Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts; Amy Flynn, director, Bank Street Family Center at Bank Street College of Education, in New York City.

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