Preschool Curriculum: What Your Child Will Learn
During preschool, your child will develop socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. Read more about the preschool curriculum, with advice for helping your child achieve learning milestones at home.
Your child's preschool days are filled with social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development. The cognitive skills learned at this stage—like basic counting and vocabulary—may seem simple, but they will set your kid up for a lifetime of knowledge.
At A-Level Preschool program we pay special attention to art. "Art exploration is not only fun and entertaining, but also educational," says Ayan Aliyeva, a CEO and a teacher at the A-Level Education Center in Baku, Azerbaijan. Preschool also helps with the development of social skills and positive self-esteem.
Children are naturally curious. From the minute they gain control of their limbs, they work to put themselves out into the world to see how it all works. They explore, observe and imitate, trying to figure out how things operate and how to control themselves and their environments. This unrestricted exploration helps children form connections in their brain, it helps them learn—and it’s also fun.
Art is a natural activity to support this free play in children. The freedom to manipulate different materials in an organic and unstructured way allows for exploration and experimentation. These artistic endeavors and self-directed explorations are not only fun, but educational as well. Art allows youth to practice a wide range of skills that are useful not only for life, but also for learning.
Skills youth practice when participating in art activities include:
Fine motor skills. Grasping pencils, crayons, chalk and paintbrushes helps children develop their fine motor muscles. This development will help your child with writing, buttoning a coat and other tasks that require controlled movements.
Cognitive development. Art can help children learn and practice skills like patterning and cause and effect (i.e., “If I push very hard with a crayon the color is darker.”). They can also practice critical thinking skills by making a mental plan or picture of what they intend to create and following through on their plan.
Math skills. Children can learn, create and begin to understand concepts like size, shape, making comparisons, counting and spatial reasoning.
Language skills. As children describe and share their artwork, as well as their process, they develop language skills. You can encourage this development by actively listening and asking open-ended questions in return. It is also a great opportunity to learn new vocabulary words regarding their project (i.e., texture).
Here are the important learning milestones children will typically achieve in preschool, with tips for helping your child stay on track with the preschool curriculum at home.
Letters and Sounds in Preschool
As part of the preschool curriculum, kids will learn to recognize and name all 26 uppercase letters and some lowercase letters (lowercase letters are harder to learn at this age). They can identify their own first name and write it out, along with other letters and meaningful words like Mom, Dad, and love. Preschool children will also develop a connection between letters and sounds, and they’ll know some of the sounds that letters make.
Helping at Home
Reinforce letter-learning by having your child play with letter refrigerator magnets. Sing the "ABC song" together and look at the beginning sounds of words in your everyday lives. "Show them on a Cheerios box that 'Cheerios' has a Ch in front," Meade suggests. "When you go to Target tell them, 'Target starts with T.' They'll recognize this the next time they go."
A love of language, reading, and books starts at home, so encourage this by reading to your child regularly. "One of the most amazing things parents can do is read to their children every day," Meade says. Even 10 minutes each night makes a difference; make it a warm, cozy experience by looking at pictures together, pointing out words, and talking about what's happening in the book. Ask questions ("What is this?" "What is she doing?") and discuss your child's observations and thoughts. Songs, nursery rhymes, and tongue twisters also teach your child about how sounds work—and they get plenty of giggles to boot!
Colors, Shapes, and Objects in Preschool
Preschoolers will continue to learn the names of colors, basic shapes, and body parts.
Helping at Home
As you read through books together, ask questions about color: "What color is that car?" and "Which hat is yellow?" Point out shapes of household objects and ask questions like, "Does that picture look like a square or a triangle?" When your child is getting dressed, talk about the colors of her shirt, pants, shoes, and socks.
You can also help the preschool curriculum by turning everything into a game. Play a "Where Is?" game to learn body parts; for example: "Where is Mommy's nose? Where is Mommy's chin? Where are your elbows?" In the car or on bus rides, play a game where you ask about an object, and encourage your child to figure out the shape and color of it.
Numbers and Counting in Preschool
A large part of the preschool curriculum is learning what numerals 0 to 9 look like and naming them correctly. Counting is a separate skill that starts with memorization; kids will memorize the order of numbers and say them proudly as they "count" objects. As preschoolers advance, they’ll realize that numbers and objects actually correspond.
Helping at Home
When you see numbers in everyday life—in books, on food cans, in TV advertisements, etc.—ask your child to identify them. You can also count everyday objects together, such as the stairs to your upper level, the crayons in a box, and the blocks on the floor.
"Ask your children, 'How many cereal boxes are in the cupboard?' and 'How many oranges are left in the bag?'" Meade suggests. "When they're having a snack, ask, 'How many crackers do you have?' Line the crackers up and have them point with their finger and count each cracker one at a time."
Cutting and Drawing in Preschool
Before entering kindergarten, children should be able to cut with scissors. As they develop better hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, they’ll start drawing and coloring beyond just scribbles. They’ll also learn to use pencils, paintbrushes, and glue.
Helping at Home
Give your kid plenty of jumbo crayons and markers, thick sidewalk chalk, and ample opportunities to draw. Using Play-Doh also builds your child's fine motor skills. "Squishing it and squeezing it will really work the muscles in their fingers," Meade says.
Socializing and Sharing in Preschool
Developing important social skills is necessary before starting kindergarten; preschoolers will learn how to share and cooperate, work together, take turns, participate in group activities, follow simple directions, and communicate wants and needs. "When they start kindergarten, they get dropped off alone, so children have to be able to speak up for themselves," Meade says. "They need to know how to ask for help."
Helping at Home
Develop your child's social skills by arranging playdates and going to the playground. At home, be consistent about simple rules your child must follow, such as making the bed or putting toys away. Let your child take responsibility for cleaning up, but remember to model appropriate social interaction and politeness.