Is a Preschool Education Important?

preschoolers painting

In 2013, President Obama proposed making high-quality preschool education available to every four-year-old in the United States. Since then, early childhood education has been a controversial topic with both parents and policymakers. For the 2014-2015 year, 44 states offered state-funded pre-Kindergarten education for children beginning at age 4. Prior to age 4, parents are responsible for the full cost of preschool. 

Cost of Preschool

Most preschool fees are comparable to the high costs of daycare centers. Depending on where you live and the quality of the preschool, average costs range from $4,460 to $13,158 per year ($372 to $1,100 monthly), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).

In cities, such as New York and Boston, full-day preschool may cost $20,000 for more or school-year tuition, summers not included. Some pre-schools offer aftercare but others end before parents get home from work, which adds another babysitter or nanny cost into the budget. 

Even if you can afford preschool, some parents are unsure about what children learn in preschool and whether their child will be ready for kindergarten following a preschool education.

What Do Kids Learn in Preschool?

Below we look at what children learn in preschool:

Social and Emotional Development

In preschool, children will learn to strengthen their social and emotional development. Children learn how to compromise, be respectful and problem solve. Preschool provides an environment for children to explore, gain a sense of self, play with peers and build self-confidence. Children learn they can accomplish tasks and make decisions without the help of their parents.

School Readiness

Behavior management is a major part of preschool learning. In preschool, children learn how to be students. Children learn patience, how to raise their hands and take turns. Children also learn how to share the teacher's attention.

Children also learn about routine, following directions and waiting. Quality preschools help children find answers through exploration, experimentation, and conversation. Going to preschool also helps children learn to separate from their parent or caregiver.

Language and Cognitive Skills

Children’s language skills are nurtured in a “language-rich” environment. In a classroom setting, teachers help children strengthen their language skills by introducing new vocabulary during art, snack time, and other activities. Teachers engage students with thought-provoking questions to give them opportunities to learn language through singing, talking about books and creative play.


In pre-school pre-math and pre-literacy skills are introduced. Children are taught numbers and letters, but it is taught in a way that is appealing to children at that age. Children sing an alphabet song while following along in a picture book or learn rhymes and chants, which help them to notice the distinct sounds within words.

Teachers read stories to children to encourage their listening, comprehension, and expressive language skills. Matching games, sorting games and counting games build children’s understanding of numbers, and sequences. Putting puzzles together encourages children to notice patterns and to work on problem-solving skills.

Children learn best through activities they find interesting, such as songs, storytime, and imaginative play. Preschool is not about achieving academic success; it is about creating a well-round child who wants to explore and question their surroundings. 

In preschool children will gain the confidence of themselves as capable and independent learners.


In pre-school, children learn they can actually do things for themselves. Children will learn to wash their hands, go to the bathroom and take off their shoes without an adult doing it for them. Children may have classroom jobs and take pride in helping out in the classroom. Learning new skills helps builds confidence.

A Word From Verywell

A quality early childhood education provides children with cognitive, behavioral, and social skills they don't learn at home. Teachers find it easier to teach a child who possesses a strong preschool education background in language skills, listening comprehension, attention management skills, and a positive attitude toward learning.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Education. Obama Administration Investments in Early Learning Have Led to Thousands More Children Enrolled in High-Quality Preschool.

  2. National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. Parents and the high cost of child care.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.