Before children are at kindergarten age, parents have diverse options for how their children will learn, develop and be educated. While some parents choose to enroll their children in a structured preschool, others decide to conduct education entirely at home, while still others choose a combination of these options. All state departments of education have learning requirements for achievement in all grade levels. Parents are free to make creative decisions regarding their children's educations, especially at the preschool age.
Around the country, preschools are available in a variety of forms. For example, all-day preschools operate from early in the morning until late afternoon and follow a full curriculum, including meals and nap time. Other preschools offer half-day programs or class time that meets only a few days a week. This is considered an enrichment option that provides children with social interaction and exposure to literacy instruction and other activities. Such schools are offered in private centers, religious institutions and colleges.
The home-school option for pre-kindergarten children is flexible and depends on the family's interests, goals and resources. Parents who choose to home-school their preschooler likely are not required to meet any state benchmarks for achievement and can set the curriculum and activities. This option is ideal for families with young children and at least one parent at home who can provide a comprehensive education, along with fundamental skills such as numbers and alphabet.
Educational research regarding early childhood development and education is diverse in opinion and focus. Some theorists believe that introducing literacy and math concepts before the age of 5 or 6 is not productive, while others push early introduction of reading, writing and math skills. Waldorf and Montessori schools favor a holistic and creative approach and are structured differently from traditional preschools that follow a curriculum that specifically prepares children for public school.
Regardless of a family's choice of education for their preschool-age child, resources are abundant in the U.S., both publicly and privately. Home-schoolers can obtain materials from online academies, education retailers and some public programs. Parents of preschool children may also receive supplemental books and activity ideas from the same outlets. In any case, parents can educate themselves on state education requirements to plan for the long-term outlook of their child's education.