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HomeArticlesIs Preschool Necessary for Kindergarten Success?

Is Preschool Necessary for Kindergarten Success?

Understanding the benefits of preschool and how to best prepare your child for kindergarten

As a teacher for over 33 years who has taught both preschool and kindergarten, I have seen firsthand the benefits of preschool in preparing children for kindergarten. However, I understand that not all children attend preschool—some stay home and spend quality time with a parent or family member until beginning kindergarten.

If you are a parent to a toddler, you may be wondering which route is best for you. Is preschool necessary in order to set your child up for success in kindergarten?

Here is a breakdown of the many ways in which preschool will help prepare your child as they embark in their academic endeavors, and also ways that you can play a role in your child’s education without sending them to preschool.

The Benefits of Preschool

Socialization. One of the big benefits of enrolling your child in preschool is the social aspect. In a preschool setting, children are taught cooperation, negotiation, problem-solving skills, and how to get along with others.

Academics. In preschool, kids will have a chance to practice fine and gross motor skills, as well as being introduced to phonics, math, science, and social studies as part of a preschool curriculum.

Rule-following. Learning to follow directions and rules of a classroom gives children a head start in kindergarten and teaches them independence. Also, being in a group setting teaches children how to be patient and wait their turn.

Adjusting to a school setting. Preschool is a great way for kids to learn to adjust to being in a school setting and routine. They can start out as half day students and end up as a full day preschooler ready for the full school day that awaits when they begin kindergarten.

Kindergarten Prep Without Preschool

Parents are their children’s first teacher and can play a big role in making school a positive and fun experience. If preschool is not the route for your family, I would encourage you to work on some of these skills at home, and get out in the community for activities with other children to help your child feel comfortable once kindergarten starts.

Here are some things that you can do at home to help prepare your child for kindergarten:

Read. First and foremost, read nightly. Use this time to help them predict what the story will be about. Ask who their favorite character is, what they think may happen at the end of the story, or how they might change the ending of the book. This fosters a love of reading.

Cook. Cooking with your child teaches math, how to follow directions, and helps them understand sequencing.

Work on fine motor skills. Sorting can be taught by unloading the silverware from the dishwasher, or matching socks. Playing with playdough, using a spray bottle of water, or coloring with small broken crayons all foster fine motor skills.

Teach letters and numbers. Concentration games with letters and numbers help with focus, as well as helping them learn the names of the letters and numbers.

Practice with scissors. Expose your child to child-size scissors. Have them cut out coupons or pictures in catalogs for fun practice.

Mix up the learning. Not all children will learn best by sitting at the table and coloring or writing—some may need more hands-on opportunities to learn. Go on a scavenger hunt to find letters and numbers, or use a child’s love of building to incorporate letters and numbers.

Get out in the community. One example of this would be to attend story time at your local library. It’s a great way to expose kids to reading, get them socializing with other children, and typically is followed by an activity.

No one knows your child like you do, so as you make the decision of whether or not to send your child to preschool, choose the route that you feel is most suitable to your child’s individual needs, personality, and what works best for your family.


Denise Matus holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching in the Fountain Hills Unified School District for 33 years, where she has taught both preschool and kindergarten. She lives in Mesa with her husband of 42 years, has two adult children, and four grandchildren.

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