Is my child learning anything at preschool?


Your little one has made the big leap to preschool class a few weeks ago. He’s happy and settled and there are no major issues really, but you feel he’s not learning as much as you expected. This is not how you imagined preschool. You were expecting him to come home in the afternoons full of songs, rhymes and clever crafts, yet he’s tired and tells you that he did nothing at school today. Oh dear!

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself, your child and the preschool teacher to help you investigate further and maybe put your mind at ease.

Why did you choose this preschool?

Remember when you visited the preschool and maybe your child came too? There is something about this preschool that you were impressed by or you would not have chosen it. If it’s still early into the year, your child is still finding his/her bearings and is probably tired at pick up time as they put all their morning’s energy into figuring out their new surroundings and the new people in their life. Give it time and things will fall into place and you’ll be pleasantly reminded why you chose this place over another.

Bear in mind that you may have first visited late in the preschool year when the children were very well settled and the room was littered with evidence of wonderful little projects, artwork and crafts. Again, I say, give it time!

Why is your child not telling you about their day?

Young children live in the moment (something that we all should do from time to time!) so sometimes they don’t feel the need or see the point in reliving their morning by describing its every detail. They are home now, time for cuddles/food/tv or whatever is the norm in your house. But if you do want to get more info out of them, here are some openers that you could use to start a discussion that might help them spill the beans…

Who did you sit beside for lunch today?

What was teacher/a specific friend wearing? (might sound like a strange question, but this may help your child visualise their morning by describing something specific thus leading to other news from the morning.)

Who did you play with today?

Did you laugh today? At what?

Did you feel sad today? Why?

Let’s sing a song from preschool.. you start off and I’ll join in.

Try to avoid the vague questions like ‘How was your day?’ or ‘did you learn anything?’ or too many questions with a ‘yes/no’ answer!

Are you comparing him to another child?

Does your child have an older sibling or cousin who has the personally which allows them to tell you every detail of their day at school/preschool with great enthusiasm? If your child has a more reserved personality, it may seem that they are not enjoying their day as much or just not doing as much as their more enthusiastic relation. Your child may be having the very same opportunities as their sibling/cousin but is processing them differently. The child who is quieter is usually the one who takes in more as regards details of discussions/learning new skills, whereas the more outgoing child is more interested in the social interaction that’s involved in preschool. Both traits are ones to be admired and developed as they blossom into the young person they are to become.

You may see ‘results’ in the quieter child a little later than you would have in the other child. Just remember to be ready to listen and respond when those little nuggets of news and new learning come through!

Ask the teacher about what exactly goes on at preschool.

Any good preschool teacher will be open to questions about their methods. Approaching the teacher or manager with your concerns may open your eyes to what exactly happens during the morning and you would be surprised how much activity fits into 3/4 hours. A teacher who is passionate about their job and has a genuine love for the children in their care will be happy to explain what they do and why they do it. If there isn’t a timetable up on the wall for you to see, ask about it. Ask the teacher to explain what’s involved in ‘circle time’  as well as ‘free play’, ‘table top’, ‘clean up’, ‘story time’, ‘art’ etc. You should discover that all activities encourage the development of various skills such as social, emotional, language, maths, literacy, physical growth, health & well being.  For example, did you know?…

  • Playing with play dough or clay strengthens the muscles in order for that ‘pincer grip’ to develop (that’s the one vital for writing with a pencil or pen later)
  • Being involved in a collaborate art project (when a number of children join together to spread paint on a surface together or get together to glue lots of paper strips to make one big picture), help to develop the child’s social and language skills.
  • Running around outside helps the child to develop their large muscles for overall health as well as helping develop their social and cooperative skills (as they share, take turns and help each other out on the tricky equipment outside). Running freely outdoors also helps the child with their concentration when they come back in for the activity that requires it.

If you’re still unsure, why not return early some day to see what they are up to. Preschool teachers should be open to this too, though listen to their advice on how to do it discretely without too much disruption to the running of the class!

Here’s to a great year for your child full of fun and learning!




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