The preschool years are a unique time in a child’s life when their ability to absorb information and experiences is at its peak. Tapping into this ability with activities that enrich their understanding of themselves, other children and the world can give this age group an advantage in their academic pursuits and their relationships with others.
Preschoolers Emotional Lives
By the age of 3 or 4 years old, a child’s personality is clearly evident. They have their own likes, dislikes, abilities and emotions. Although children at this age recognize their emotions, they are still unable to control them. They may laugh heartily when something appears funny to them. They may break into tears at the slightest mention of a sad situation. They may strike out in anger. This volatility of emotions continues for some time until they are old enough to distance themselves sufficiently from the emotion to develop impulse control. However, even amidst this unbridled emotional turmoil, interacting with other children provides many opportunities to develop control in themselves and empathy for others. The unstructured social activities of preschool nurture character development and many executive functioning skills.
Learning in the Preschool Years
Preschool activities may seem like play, but they involve intense brain-work that sets the stage for lifelong learning. Simple activities such as shape recognition, colour recognition, following patterns and organizing sizes entail the basic concepts involved in all types of learning and education. Sound matching helps with reading readiness, and group activities teach children how to cooperate with others. These structured activities also help build executive functioning skills.
The preschool experience can enrich children’s lives in a variety of ways and can prepare them for more intensive learning and interactions in future years. The key is to find the right balance of social and emotional development and learning for a more holistic experience.