Learning begins young.
Even before children start their formal schooling, they are always learning through exploring and playing.
And as parents, we all want the best for our precious little ones.
Yet, choosing a preschool is extremely difficult.
Some claim to help your child develop social skills while others advertise themselves as the prime preschool that helps with academic skills development.
And while being able to help your loved one develop both strong academic and social skills in preschool is something that many schools hope to do, being able to do both effectively at the same time is something that is simply too tough (pre-schools still want your children to be able to play without worry and stress as well!).
That’s why it is important to understand what each skill is and how they help your children as they grow up so that you can help to supplement your child’s growth.
What are Pre-academic and Academic Skills?
Pre-academic skills refer to skills like understanding the alphabet and numbers, being able to think critically to solve simple problems, and being able to recognise different words.
These are the skills that prepare and enable your children to master more complex academic skills quickly when they begin proper schooling.
This means that your child’s academic competence is heavily affected by these pre-academic skills that are picked up in preschool.
A strong foundation here will allow children to ace his/her academics and give them a headstart in school.
At the same time, being able to develop strong pre-academic skills positively benefits self-esteem and motivation.
By arming them with the skill sets required to solve complex academic tasks, the children will be able to build confidence by working on issues individually and solving them successfully.
Furthermore, with more confidence, children will also be likely to have an increased motivation to attempt even more academic undertakings, allowing them to develop even more academic skills.
So, How are Pre-Academic Skills Developed?
Now that we understand the importance of pre-academic skills, how exactly are these skills developed and how can mastering these skills prepare and form the foundations of your children’s academic behaviour later on in life?
Pre-academic skills can be imparted by encouraging learning through play.
By playing with blocks and working on puzzles, children are able to develop skills related to counting, spatial relationship, and one-to-one correspondence.
These then go on to become vital skills that begin a child’s understanding of mathematics.
Additionally, encouraging the development of pre-academic skills by reading stories out aloud, having the children come out with stories of their own (and having a teacher write them out), and acting out various stories dramatically allows children to build the basic foundations of language.
By developing these pre-academic skills, children will be able better appreciate and enjoy reading while being able to master key skills like phonetics and being able to read and write English words from left to right (and top to bottom).
And because of the importance of academic skills, having a balanced program that encourages your child’s development is extremely important.
As such, good programs that develop academic skills should include language, comprehension, math, and sciences and contain opportunities for physical activity, music, and the arts, as a fundamental part of their curriculum to promote well-rounded skills and knowledge of the world.
What are Social Skills?
As compared to academic skills which may not appear as much in our day-to-day lives, social skills are non-academic skills used in our everyday interaction and communication with others.
From verbal to non-verbal communications, social skills include how we speak, how gestures are used and understanding what facial expressions and body language is appropriate for various situations.
A child with strong social skills will know how to behave in social situations and understand both written and implied rules when communicating.
As such, social skills are actually really valuable and actually also serve as predictors of future success.
Furthermore, social skills also actually impact job success, independence, and emotional well-being.
It seems that people with better social skills exhibit an excellent ability to observe, problem solve and respond in social situations even if they are difficult.
This means that giving children a head start by encouraging the development of social skills in preschoolers is something that you should strongly consider.
What are the Types of Social Skills?
Of course, social skills is an umbrella term for a variety of different important skills that every child should be imparted with. Here are the 4 main types:
- Survival skills: Listening to instructions, Filtering information, Following directions
- Interpersonal skills: Sharing with others, joining a conversation, reading the room, and taking turns talking.
- Problem-solving skills: Asking for help, deciding what to do or which appropriate action to take, recognizing when and how to apologize
- Conflict resolution skills: Dealing with teasing and bullying, losing a game and being a good sport, handling peer pressure
The Importance of Social Skills
Without a strong social skills foundation, it will be hard for your child to make new friends and maintain friendships with their peers.
Furthermore, if your child struggles with communicating effectively, their confidence will be affected as they will be uncomfortable with talking to strangers during their daily lives (in situations like asking for assistance in stores, asking for directions if they are lost, and explaining their stance to others).
Most importantly, a lack of social skills can also lead to difficulty in mastering the ability to cope with failure.
So Then, Which is More Important?
Even though both sets of skills are extremely important to develop, we believe that it is better to focus more on developing social skills in preschoolers.
This is because these social skills are soft skills that will follow your child all the way as they grow up.
However, this does not mean that we can totally neglect the development of pre-academic skills due to the importance of academic skills.
While working to develop social skills, we should also try to include as much pre-academic skill development as possible so that your children can also grow up to be holistic individuals.
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