Most parents are curious about the difference between preschool and pre-k when their kids are old enough to start learning.
The distinction between these two can be blurry, especially when you don’t know what each of them entails. After all, they all seem like programs to prepare your child for school, so how different could they be?
In my article today, I’ll reveal what each of these programs is and how they are similar and different from each other.
Preschool is also known as playschool or pre-primary school. This is a program created for young children, usually between the ages of 2-4.
The main purpose of preschool is to prepare these kids for school. Children in a preschool are taught various skills that help with their transition from a home to a learning environment.
While different preschools may be run differently, they usually cover the same basic learning essentials. There are some that accept kids who’re at least 2½ years, while others have a higher age bracket.
But, generally, these programs are for kids who are beginning to learn letters, numbers, words and need to expand their vocabulary.
Preschool also serves to separate kids from their parents or caretakers and place them in a new environment. It helps them build new bonds and gain a sense of security away from their primary caretakers, which prepares them for school later on.
Different preschools have varying schedules. Some may open for half a day, while others run throughout the day. Others may be open only a few days each week, while others operate every day.
The key to finding a good preschool is looking for the one that’ll equip your kid with the social, emotional, learning, and physical skills that they need to grow.
Here are some of the things that children learn at pre-school:
In preschool, your kid will learn essential skills that are necessary for a successful entry to school. Their teachers in preschool guide them on the proper behaviors that are expected of students and gradually prepare them for the shift that their lives will take once they go to school.
Some of the skills they’ll learn to become better students later include:
These skills will help them learn to follow their school routines, follow their teacher’s instructions, and relate well with classmates.
When your child leaves home and goes to school, they’re thrust into a new environment with new people. This is a significant change that can be difficult to adjust to since they were only used to their family.
Preschool helps improve children’s social skills so that they can become comfortable in other environments with new people.
Activities in preschool are usually carried out among playgroups, which allows your kid to form relationships with peers. If they were clingy to you, this is when they get used to being separated.
Other than getting used to being around new people, preschool also equips them with the skills required for healthy social relationships. They learn how to compromise, share, and respect others.
They also learn how to solve problems that arise among groups in amicable ways. Group play is an essential part of any preschool program, and it tremendously improves their social skills.
Every parent is eager for their child’s word. And once they utter that first word, you want to hear them speak more and form sentences.
Preschool helps kids learn the language skills that they need to become fluent speakers, readers, and writers. This is accomplished through activities that help to expand their vocabulary. Such activities include singing, games, art, and pretend play.
Besides enriching their vocabulary, kids also learn how to understand and respond to spoken instructions. They also get better at expressing themselves verbally, which helps them communicate with those around them.
In preschool, kids become better listeners and speakers, and this contributes to their learning skills. At the end of the day, this will help with their social and emotional development.
Kids in preschool get introduced to pre-literacy and pre-math skills. They learn these through activities that are appropriate for their age and attention span.
This is when they get to learn the alphabet song. Songs, rhymes, chants, and other fun activities are used to introduce them to letters, numbers, and words.
Picture books, games, puzzles, and story telling are also used to improve listening, counting, and comprehension.
All of these skills are taught to prepare them for more advanced learning when they finally get to kindergarten. By starting their learning at this early stage, they’ll be able to better comprehend lessons later at school. And this will ensure that they’re not left behind by their classmates.
Children learn a certain level of self-reliance when they attend preschool. Unlike at home, where they have people doing everything for them, at preschool, they’re encouraged to carry out activities by themselves or among groups.
They learn basic things such as trying their shoes or going to the bathroom, which can wean them off, relying on their parents for everything. The roles that they take up in class projects or plays also build their confidence, and they discover that they can do some things by themselves.
Building a child’s confidence will go a long way in developing their behavioral, social, and cognitive skills. They’ll also feel more motivated in academic activities.
- It allows kids to build new relationships outside their home environment. They learn to trust other adults besides their parents or caretakers and can make new friends with their classmates.
- Gets children ready for school by introducing appropriate behaviors for students, getting them used to a classroom environment, and introducing them to basic math and literacy skills.
- Preschool provides a lot of opportunities for kids to learn new vocabulary and develop communication skills. It helps kids to develop their language skills, making them better listeners, speakers, and learners.
- Most high-quality preschools are expensive.
- Some preschool schedules may not complement your work schedule, forcing you to make childcare arrangements for your kid after school.
- Your kid may lack the individual attention that they need if there’s a high teacher-student ratio, and all of the activities are based on groups.
Pre-K is another program that prepares kids for primary school. However, this is usually for kids between the ages of 4-5.
It means that when kids complete preschool, they can join Pre-K for more advanced learning. Pre-K is the stage right before they go to kindergarten.
Pre-K can, therefore, be termed as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten. While preschool introduces kids to basic skills for learning, social, and emotional development, Pre-K explores them more deeply.
At this stage, kids are more conversant with working together with their peers and can carry out more in-depth projects in groups. Their confidence at this point is also higher, and they’re able to carry out various tasks without constant supervision.
In Pre-K, kids deepen their knowledge in language, science, math and also improve their social skills. Since they’ve already been introduced to these in preschool, it’s easier for them to learn and make improvements.
Just like preschool, Pre-K also utilizes play learning a lot to equip kids with vital skills. They take part in games, acting, and imaginative play as part of their routines.
- Pre-K prepares kids for kindergarten, which is the first stage of compulsory school. It explores what they learn in preschool to a deeper level, which sharpens their learning and comprehension skills.
- Kids in Pre-K enhance their social skills further, and they learn more about how to participate in group projects while taking individual roles. This makes them better prepared for classroom activities when they go to kindergarten.
- Pre-K programs enhance math and literacy skills in children at an early level, and this makes it easier for them to comprehend lessons when they attend kindergarten. They’ll be quick learners and not feel frustrated by the level of learning at primary school.
- Finding a good Pre-K program for your kid can be hard when you want one that’s affordable, suits your schedule, and also fits your child’s needs.
- If the class is big, your child might not receive individual attention.
Similarities and Differences Between Preschool and Pre-K
There are many similarities between preschool and Pre-K, but they also differ in lots of ways. Understanding what these are can help you choose the program that suits your child.
- They both cater to kids who are getting prepared for compulsory primary education. The two programs introduce language and math skills through activities that capture the interest of young children below the age of 5.
- Both programs help children develop social skills and form new relationships outside of their home environment. They learn how to collaborate with others on projects, compromise, and solve disputes that occur in groups.
- These programs are characterized by group play and activities. High-quality programs have classes of about 10 kids who are attended to by one teacher to ensure that each of them gets adequate individual attention.
- Preschool and Pre-K are not compulsory, but they’re advisable to prepare your child for kindergarten. They help them develop basic learning skills and get used to being in a school environment so that they can become better students in the future.
- The main difference between preschool and Pre-K is that Pre-K is a program aimed for older kids, while the former targets 2-4-year-olds. Pre-K comes after preschool, so kids who have cleared the latter can join Pre-K for more preparation.
- Preschool introduces kids to basic skills in language and math, while Pre-K addresses these at a deeper level. Kids who attend Pre-K have already learned the alphabet, numbers and can carry out various academic exercises. But those in preschool are complete beginners.
- Preschool builds up to Pre-K, while Pre-K comes just before kindergarten. Pre-K can therefore be termed as the most similar program to a school, which prepares kids more intensely for it.
Preschool Vs. Pre-K: How to Choose
Which program to go for between preschool and Pre-K depends on your child’s age, needs, and learning abilities.
If they’re a total beginner, preschool is ideal. But if you’ve been teaching them at home and they know their letters, numbers, and can read words, then it makes sense to take them straight to Pre-K.
When looking for a school to take them to, ask for details about the activities that they’ll be taking part in. Also, find out what the teacher-student ratio is.
This way, you can discover whether your child will be in a conducive learning environment and whether they’ll be taught the right skills.
If you’re a working parent, you might want to look for a school that fits your schedule. There are some preschools or Pre-Ks that offer after school daycare services, and these can be quite convenient for you.
Besides sending your kid to preschool or Pre-K to learn, you can also play a role in their learning journey through a bit of homeschooling. This will help build their confidence and make them smarter.
There are various programs you can use for home learning, one of which is the Children Learning Reading. It is a reading program developed by a reading teacher to help children of as young as two years to learn reading.
It’s a suitable program if you want to give your kid a head start, or they’re having difficulties learning in preschool, and you’d like to give them a boost.
Preschool and Pre-K are both good foundational programs to prepare your kid for school. They also help them develop social skills, which allows them to form new relationships outside their home.
Both programs can contribute to the healthy growth of your kid mentally, physically, and socially. Therefore, they might be a good consideration for your kid before they start compulsory education.