For most families, the struggle with balancing work/home life and leisure time is very challenging. The decision of when to send your child to daycare or preschool can be as well. A daycare or preschool has a lot of opportunities for your child to learn in many different areas of development. They learn best from children of their own age and when they are able to explore their environment on their own terms. Here are some other ways daycare/preschool can enhance your child’s development besides the area of academic development:
Building Independence: When children are young it is natural for them to have some anxiety about separating from their caregivers. It is actually a good thing to associate their caregivers with safety. While there are different levels and different types of safe people, it is important for children to learn what people in their lives are safe, other than their primary caregivers. A child will have to go through the process of separating from their caregiver at some stage in life and waiting until Kindergarten when they are much older will usually be much harder on both the caregivers and the children.
Building immune systems: A criticism of most daycares/preschools is often that children will be sick all the time! While it is true that most children when they first start school at any age will often pass germs back and forth constantly becoming sick, they often are sick with minor sinus/ear infections, colds or strep throat. These minor infections are what teaches our body how to fight off more serious infections as we become older and in the long term will build stronger immune systems than children who stay at home until Kindergarten.
Learning to interact with other children: Children learn from children of their own age the best. They learn how to play with each other, how to share, how to behave, and how to make friends. These skills will become lifelong skills into adulthood. Having a large variety of children with different backgrounds and personalities will help build tolerance in diversity later in life.
Learning to sit and listen: One of the most important skills children need for Kindergarten is how to sit, listen, and follow directions- specially from people other than their primary caregivers. Children in daycare/preschools will learn this through other children modeling these behaviors and through trained professionals guiding them to sit and listen to what is being taught.
Other positive outcomes could also be:
- Promoting language/communication development
- Learning routine/structure
- Tolerating changes in routine
- Tolerating transitions
- Developing independence
- Developing personal preferences
- Less stress on primary caregivers
Nicole Rollier, OTR/L, is an experienced Pediatric Occupational Therapist who is an integral part of both United Ability’s Hand In Hand Early Intervention Program and the Ability Clinic Outpatient program. She began working for United Ability in 2014 and currently renders home based services to families in our Early Intervention Program as well as services in our United Ability Clinic as a pediatric outpatient therapist. Nicole has specialty trainings in Handwriting Without Tears, Talk Tools Sensory Oral Motor Pre-Feeding Therapy, and the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Feeding approach to Feeding.
Did you know that in addition to United Ability’s Hand In Hand Inclusive Early Learning Program, we also offer Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose, a program that helps train other daycares and preschools to better equip children with special needs and their families.