Top Questions & Answers for Parents of Preschoolers

By Susan Sherwood
Sometimes preschoolers are motivated to pretend by real experiences they have had.
Sometimes preschoolers are motivated to pretend by real experiences they have had.

Your preschooler has been talking to her stuffed animals for 30 minutes. What's up? She's also asked about a million questions so far today. What's going on? Preschoolers are often moved to do things that we don't understand because their understanding of the world is profoundly different from ours. However, when parents learn more about their children's world, it's a whole lot easier to guide their kids.

Is Pretend Play Important?

Preschoolers have many opportunities for fun, but engaging in make-believe also helps their social skills. While pretending, preschoolers play longer and more cooperatively with each other. When playing with someone else, young kids learn about the lives and roles of others. They also exercise many thinking skills during make-believe, such as memory, attention, reasoning, imagination and reflection. Children develop language skills. They talk a great deal with each other while playing. In addition, kids experiment with speech: a giant uses different words than a "pretend" teacher does.

Why Do Preschoolers Ask So Many Questions?

When talking with adults, preschoolers average at least one question each minute. Most seek information: "What's that for?" Many are "why" questions: "Why is the sky blue?" The questioning habit has been developing for a long time; even babies ask questions in the form of pointing. Questioning is an important way for youngsters to learn about the world. They really want answers because, if kids don't receive satisfactory explanations, they either repeat the question or answer it themselves. Only 10 to 30 percent of preschoolers' questions are not directly trying to get information. These often check for permission or seek assistance, such as "Can I go, too?" or "Will you read to me?"

What Is a Good Preschool Program?

Parents often need preschools or day care centers for their young children. You want a setting where your child is safe and receives positive attention. You can help determine this by looking at several characteristics. The physical setting should be clean and in good condition. You should see a variety of individual or small-group activities to choose, both indoors and out. In large child care settings, each teacher should be responsible for no more than eight to 10 kids, but the ratio in a home setting should be no greater than one adult to six children. Adults should model the behaviors they want to see and use gentle corrections and suggestions when needed.

How Do I Help My Child Make Friends?

Preschoolers are moving from parallel play -- where they play close to but not with other children -- to cooperative play. Parents have much to teach youngsters about developing friendships. Play dates set by parents demonstrate how to get together with friends and act as hosts. While supervising kids' play, parents make suggestions about sharing, dealing with disagreements and being kind. Parents who play with their children also help them learn how to interact with playmates as the adults model friendly behaviors.

How Can We Make Bedtime Easier?

Preschoolers often struggle with bedtime, and you can help make the transition go more smoothly. Start by leading up to bedtime with calm activities such as a warm bath, books and quiet music. Establish a tuck-in routine such as one book and a song. Favorite blankets or plush animals are helpful additions to the bedtime routine. Be consistent and praise your preschooler any time she's on target during the process.

About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.