My sister asked a great question about preschool the other day. She is concerned that her daughter isn't learning anything new and some of the concepts being taught she feels her daughter has mastered at home. Her example was that her daughter was tracing circles (she has been drawing circles since she was 3!)
Preschool serves two purposes. I am sure some of you may be in shock when I say that, but I think it's true.
Purpose #1 (Social Skills)
Preschool helps teach kids how to interact in a classroom, make new friends, follow agreed upon rules, as well as, learn how to listen/follow directions. These skills are necessary for kindergarten and to be successful in a "real" school setting. Practice makes perfect! Another aspect of preschool that is often not thought about, but is taught just by going everyday is teaching your child about the importance of education. You would not believe some of the attendance issues that are popping up, simply due to the child/parent lack of insistence on attending school on a regular basis.
Purpose #2 (Academic Skills)
Some of you who are very involved with your children may have already covered the preschool curriculum by the end of year 2, and you feel that your child is not learning anything NEW! Remember some parents simply do not have the time to spend with their child, so for these children the concepts are new and it is helping them develop a foundation. For the ones who brought their child ready to read, you may not see them mastering reading or addition and subtraction, however, it doesn't mean they aren't learning something related to science or social studies. What your child reports back to you could be leaving out some of the most important parts of their day. On the other hand they might not be learning anything new, but you would be surprised at some of the preschool curriculum and the evolution it has gone through to meet the growing demands to give your child a head start. (In Nordic countries, they don't even introduce reading until late second and early third grade, when the mind is more able. Have you seen their high school test scores???)
Other skills such as glueing, cutting, and manipulating objects help with your child's fine motor skills, which will eventually lead to better handwriting. They also work on developing large motor skills which builds core muscle strength, which will eventually help them sit for longer periods of time.
Questions to keep in mind about preschool?
1. What is the purpose for your child?
2. Do they like going?
Also if you are really worried about lack of curriculum, pop in one day and see what is really going on. Don't just plop yourself down and watch, be an active participant and see if your child's teacher needs any help. It will give you an inside into what they have already done or what they are going to be doing.