April 27, 2023

The Well-Rounded Three-Year-Old: How Preschool Plants the Seeds for Success, Part I

Part I: Cognitive Development

Children’s brains grow more in their first five years than at any other time in their lives, according to First Things First. And while we adults fumble, trying to remember what we were going to say, our preschoolers are adding about eight new words daily to their vocabularies!

Growing Further with Preschool

These early years are a time of remarkable growth, change, challenge and hope. And far from simply being “a place to go play,” today’s preschools offer critical opportunities for three-year-olds to grow cognitively, emotionally, socially, and physically. Studies show the more years children spend in preschool, the larger their educational gains down the road (e.g., stronger graduation rates, longer schooling careers, fewer instances of crime/teen pregnancy, and higher earnings later in life). Additionally, while academic gains tend to level out during the first few years of elementary school, social benefits do not: Children taking part in high-quality preschool programs, especially those from lower-income families, seem to reap the most rewards from this exciting group dynamic.

In this four-part blog series, we’ll look at how preschool programs plant the seeds for long-term success, and why every child should be given a chance to grow further with a strong socio-educational foundation.

The Top 5 Brain-Boosting Benefits

Have you ever looked at your preschooler’s head and wondered what, exactly, was happening up there? Truth is, it’s equal parts chaos and calm, tornado and temple: They’re learning (and moving) constantly, making sense of their surroundings and asking Why dozens of times daily. Simultaneously, though, they’re also looking for patterns and people they can count on in their strange new worlds; they want life to be fun, but also to make sense.

Early childhood education settings offers preschoolers several levels of stability as they make their way through their wondrous days. Of critical importance is cognitive growth.  

The top five benefits three-year-olds receive from preschool include:

  1. Getting to learn—visually, aurally, and kinesthetically: These active children are hands-on, often learning best when experiencing lessons physically, aurally, and visually…and then putting everything they learn into practice.
  2. Growing their love of learning: Through play-based environments, three-year-olds pick up skills, expand their vocabularies, and build on their curiosity and from their imaginations.
  3. Strengthening academic skills: This is the cognitive foundation-building that’s so critical; in preschool, three-year-olds begin learning the sorting, matching, counting, experimenting, and reading skills that will carry them through their schooling careers.
  4. Utilizing tools at their fingertips: With art supplies, books, games, play equipment, water tables and more at the ready, preschoolers get to discover their likes and dislikes, talents and interests.
  5. Receiving necessary intervention services sooner: Deeply trained educators are best equipped to ensure early childhood milestones are being met, and will flag any areas of concern so extra support can be provided toward healthy development.

Preschool harnesses the immense cognitive development happening in these early years and helps young children with kindergarten readiness, sets the foundation for educational success for the rest of their lives, and so much more.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of preschool? Look out for Parts 2, 3, and 4 of The Well-Rounded Three-Year-Old: How Preschool Plants the Seeds for Success for the top five emotional, social, and physical benefits of starting schooling sooner. We’ll be publishing these soon!