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What should I expect from my daugther's Pre-K school?
Q: My daughter is 4 years old and attends a preschool/daycare, and will soon be moving into Pre-K. She recognizes the letters of the alphabet and can count up to 20 in Spanish and English. At times, I feel her current program has too much playtime and not enough learning time. What exactly should I expect from her school?
A: It sounds to me as though her early childhood program is doing a great job—along with what you must be doing with her at home. Please don’t separate “playtime” and “learning time” in your mind. Children learn best—and they probably learn the most—in play situations. Pre-kindergarten play is full of opportunities for learning-appropriate social behaviour (how to share, take turns, make friends), for allowing emotional expression to become more controlled (taking disappointment without a tantrum), and for acquiring intellectual skills and new information (learning sizes and shapes, gauging amounts such as more or less, solving problems such as finding the right size and shape for a puzzle piece or the correct block to complete a building structure, developing and using new vocabulary). That kind of play is so full of learning we can’t begin to descote it all, and a good early childhood program will consist mainly of such carefully planned play activities. You’ll find more reassurance in my article on this Web site, “Playing for Keeps: the Seriousness of Play to Little Children.”