Preschool programs lead to kindergarten readiness. Along with the research that shows the connection between the two, as a parent you can see the obvious benefits. Your child is learning her A,B,C’s and 1,2,3’s, and you know that the teacher is preparing her to eventually start grade school. That said, just ‘being’ in an early education setting isn’t going to make a major impact. There are specific parts of pre-k programs that affect children and help them to develop the skills and abilities that they’ll need later on. Understanding what these are can help you to make the most of your child’s preschool days or even help you to pick a program that better needs you little learner’s needs. Check out what parts of these early education programs make them quality experiences for young children. Support from the Teacher Close, supportive interactions between teachers and pre-k students top the list as one of the most important things to look for in a quality program, according to the Foundation for Child Development. This doesn’t mean that the teacher stands in front of the children and talks at them or simply hands out hugs when the kids get upset. Early childhood educators should create learning environments that provide plenty of verbal interactions. When doing this, it’s important to see that the teacher is emotionally supporting the child’s learning. This can be done through praise, encouragement and a positive attitude. Intent in Activities It may look like your child is randomly building with blocks or tossing paint onto paper. But, in a quality preschool these activities are intentional and specifically designed to support your child’s development. How? The teacher creates goals and objectives, providing an intentional aspect to all classroom lessons. Let’s say the 3-years-olds are building with blocks. The teacher may have created an activity that involves patterning (alternating different sizes or shapes of blocks) to teach basic math skills. Meeting Children Where They Are Quality preschool programs meet children’s needs where they are. This means that teachers and administrators understand child development and know how to create a curriculum that both matches the child’s present abilities and sets goals for future skills. When it comes to future development, the pre-k educator should understand (and use lessons) that work on skills that are just beyond what the child can currently do. This doesn’t mean that the activities are far from what the child is able to do or push the child well beyond what is appropriate for her development level. When your child attends a quality program, she obviously benefits. Between support from the teacher, intentional activities and a program that meets developmental needs, preschools can help children to build skills...