Habitot Children's Museum

9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 12:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30
9:30 - 4:30

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Best Museum for Little Kids,
San Francisco Bay Area

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Habitot is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that relies on community support


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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A
Parenting Question of the Month

What do young children get out of preschool?
Parenting Q&A

This month, parents of two and three year olds, including many stay-at-home parents, begin to consider preschool options for their child. Here are some recognized benefits of preschool:
  • Many children begin to learn early math, science and literacy concepts at home, and preschool is a great play to reinforce and expand on these concepts. Preschools can provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences where children can explore and experiment with a variety of tools and substances.

  • While preschool is important for early math, science, and literacy concepts, it is also important for children's social and emotional development. The preschool environment offers children a space where they begin to understand other children's feeling, how to share, and how to make friends. Numerous studies have found that social and emotional awareness in early childhood can lead to better outcomes in kindergarten and beyond.

  • Preschool also provides children with an opportunity to gain the necessary skills to self-regulate. All preschools, whether purely play-based or structured, have regular circle times and meal times where children are able to experience working in a group, taking turns, following directions, and managing their own behavior. Children who are able to self-regulate enter kindergarten ready to learn and contribute to the classroom community.

However, there are great differences between preschools, and not all preschools provide an appropriate early childhood experience. Preschools that place emphasis on learning letters and numbers, learning to read and write and other focused curricula may make parents feel they are giving their children an advantage, but studies show that whatever gains children make from these programs fade quickly once children are in school.  Moreover, programs like these can stress many children and leave others not liking school before they even get to school. These research findings are one reason universal preschool has been controversial.

Play-based preschools offer both an appropriate learning environment and other children to help foster social and emotional growth. Early childhood experts know that preschoolers learn differently than school aged children. Play is essential to early learning -- it's not a break from learning, but the way young children learn. Effective play-based preschool programs have highly trained teachers who regularly use children's interests and activities to guide learning. Look for programs with lots of "child initiated" activities and a minimum of time spent following teachers' directions.

Parenting Resources


Play: It's the Way Young Children Learn, Connections, Vol 36, No. 3, Fall 2007, California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC)

Play in the Early Years: Key to School Success, A Policy Brief from the Bay Area Early Childhood Funders, May 2007 http://www.4children.org/resources/ecf.html

Preschoolers Face Academic Pressures, Jackie Burrell, Contra Costa Times, September 16, 2007 http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-32888003_ITM

Einstein May Never Have Used Flashcards, but He Probably Built Forts, Lori Hough, Harvard Graduate School of Education http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/ed/2007/spring/features/einstein.html

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