Preschool Centers vs Online Preschool Programs

Preschool Centers

It seems almost obvious that more and more services are being offered online. The internet has opened up a digital sphere of virtual offices, relationships, communities and so much more. There are however some services that remain most beneficial in their traditional form, namely preschool. Preschool is a very momentous occasion in your child’s life. It may be the first time you’re separated for longer periods, it may be where they meet their best friends for life and it is most definitely where they start to become more of who they will be. They’re exposed to exciting new things, different people, their favorite teachers, and so many people to have fun with. The increased connectivity via the internet has made the world that much smaller, allowing children to complete their preschool learning online. Although this seems revolutionary, there are a few important elements of traditional preschool centers that can never be substituted via the virtual world.

The Importance of Preschool Centers for Development

Considering stages of development, Preschool is as important as Elementary School, if not more. Time at preschool teaches our children a range of lessons that set-in motion learning about life, as they begin to develop into who they are. Sure, preschool is a safe place for our children to stay while we are out working and earning a living. But preschool is so much more than that.

Social Learning

Preschool prepares children for school and equips them with the social skills they need to navigate the world “out there” such as:

  • making friends
  • learning classroom appropriate behavior and other behavior depending on the situation
  • learning right from wrong (by getting into trouble)
  • communication skills
  • coping skills concerning frustrations, anger, threats, and challenges they may experience
  • entry skills – knowing how to join a group of people
  • conflict resolution skills
  • managing conflict
  • learning patience
  • sharing with others
  • following instructions

Development of Self

 Self-awareness affects the behavior of children. They learn self-awareness in preschool through association with other children, by making real-world mistakes and learning to correct them. They learn what they like and don’t like and they also learn what other people like and don’t like, which in turn will inform their own behavior. Children learn to recognize their own feelings and they learn about the consequences of their behavior for themselves and others. They begin to understand how people view them based on analyzing their reaction to this action. As children begin to learn self-awareness, they should be able to put their feelings into words, recognize the mistakes they’ve made and understand that their behavior affects others.

An online preschool setting does not allow for this important social characteristic to develop because children are not exposed to other children and their social growth is never put to the test in an environment where they can be guided to alter inappropriate social behavior. Children need to be able to develop confidence in their abilities and explore what they’re good at as well as what they enjoy and what they don’t enjoy. At a preschool center like Providence Children’s Academy, problem-solving skills are given ground to develop naturally as they navigate through their daily activities. Empathy for others and compassion will also get a chance to blossom as they make friends. If children are not exposed to other children at this stage, the opportunity to mold their behavior positively, slowly slips away as they grow older.  Trying to teach an older child to share, show compassion and patience is much more difficult than when they are at this young, impressionable age.

These benefits cannot be replicated by a virtual learning space, especially at such an early level of development. The preschool learning experience is critical for young children.

Online Preschool Programs

The intent behind online preschool programs is a great addition to the lives of those who have limited access to a preschool center, whether it be for geographical reasons or financial reasons. Online preschools are advertised as being interactive and relational. They consist of educational games as well as the preschool curriculum children are expected to learn. However, education experts warn that online preschool programs are likely to do more harm than good, according to The Hechinger Report.

The new generation is likely to spend more time on the computer as it is, due to the increase in technology products and overall family usage. This excessive screen time can stifle the imagination, lead to poor eyesight and create a reliance on technology (which needs no added promotion at this stage). Overuse of computers at a young age has been seen to cause sleep-deprivation, behavioral problems and lacking in social-emotional development. At this early stage of development, it is important that children have the opportunity to learn through the use of all their senses. Although the program is likely full of color and excitement for the young mind, there are no social or emotional skills being taught. The environment is predictable and static. Children never feel any sort of motivation to perform because there lacks a realistic reward system (which supports action and consequence learning) and lack the lesson of discipline, accepting guidance or learning to follow multiple instructions in an environment where they require the use of multiple senses. Online preschool programs seem to encourage instant gratification, meaning they get results without delay. This is the sole purpose of the internet, to give results instantaneously. This only promotes a mentality of “I want and I want it now” because they are never taught to wait and be patient.

There is no doubt that the content of online preschool programs is relevant to its students and can benefit children that limited to no access to preschools, however, when you have so many great early development preschools in your area such as Providence Children’s Academy, the benefits of preschool centers far outweigh those of online programs, especially when it comes to the overall growth and development of your children.

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