Is Online Preschool Worth It? Not really, says an Early Childhood Expert

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And yes, preschool kids are way too young to be doing online learning

With another year of online learning in the horizon, preschool parents in the Philippines are fraught with worry. Not all kids — especially preschool kids — are fans of this alternative to actual school. And parents are worried that their kids are missing out on a lot, especially socializing with their peers.

Yes, there’s a whole lot more to preschool than just learning your ABC’s. It’s about learning everything about life, how to live, how to navigate and problem solve creatively, and how to be eager learners.

Unfortunately, online learning isn’t doing preschool any justice.

If you’ve been considering online learning for your preschooler, you’ll want to hear what psychology and Early Childhood specialist Aina Lacson has to say about it.

Why online learning isn’t suitable for preschoolers

Preschool kids can’t learn life skills through a screen

For children, the preschool years are all about developing their emotional, physical, social and linguistic capabilities. Kids learn everything from holding a pencil to solving simple problems, which later on become life skills. They also learn concepts of math, science and the foundations of learning to read.

Unfortunately, online learning isn’t the most suitable avenue for learning these skills. “Teaching involves actual human interaction and proximity,” says Aina Lacson, “Body language, negotiation between peers, reading physical cues are as crucial as learning about the basics of reading and numbers.” For preschoolers, especially, staring at a screen and receiving instructions isn’t as conducive as actual interactions with teachers and other children.

It’s better for elementary school-aged children or older

After 25 years in the field, Aina concurs that online learning is futile for preschool children. “It’s more applicable to older elementary-aged children who know the etiquette of being online, the mechanics of turn-taking, and have longer patience thresholds,” she says.

So what should parents do?

Aina advises parents to be as involved as possible in their preschooler’s education. “Parents are supposed to be the child’s first teachers. Online learning should be the supplement, not the main piece de resistance,” says Aina. And yes, all the life skills they learn at preschool can be taught by parents!

Think of preschool as another form of bonding!

Kids love to copy what their parents do, so we should take this as a cue to practice what we preach. Whether it’s by being courteous, curious about reading — they’ll follow what they see! Also, take this opportunity to take the kids outdoors. “Children can at least see other children play,” explains Aina, “Children need to learn from and with other children. “

Simple activities parents can do at home with their preschool children

According to Aina, there are lots of fun and EASY activities parents can do with children that require minimal materials.

Playing with sand or soil, baking cookies (involves measuring, counting and waiting for the finished product), painting, reading books together, water play — these are all simple activities that teach many valuable lessons.

Although face to face learning isn’t a possibility yet, perhaps this is a sign for us parents to step up and get more involved in our kids’ learning. And yes, in the time of COVID where our preschoolers’ physical health is important, we must remember to keep them emotionally healthy as well.

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