Why Socialization is So Important for Preschoolers, Especially During a Pandemic
By KSS Immersion Schools
As COVID 19 continues to be a concern in many areas, working parents in the San Francisco Bay area may be hesitant to place their children in group settings and instead opt for in-home care. However, it’s important to consider the social ramifications of continuing to isolate kids due to the pandemic, especially considering that according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all.”
Socialization is a crucial part of childhood development. Social interaction fosters a “sense of self,” an important developmental milestone that influences one’s perception of the world. Socialization facilitates other life-long skills like confidence, communication, and problem-solving.
In fact, according to Harvard Edu Magazine, when researchers compared children with access to publicly funded preschool programs like Head Start to similar children who didn’t attend a center-based preschool program, they discovered strongly positive effects on children who attended center based preschools including improved vocabulary.
Encouraging preschoolers to socialize during a pandemic might seem counterintuitive. However, enrolling your child in a reputable COVID safety protocol-compliant environment provides socialization benefits with limited risk.
Research shows that kids who attend a high-quality preschool are more prepared for school than kids who did not attend preschool. A study conducted by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) found that children who attend good-quality programs experience significant learning gains that extend into elementary school.
“When participants are compared to very similar students who did not attend preschool, the benefits of participation are found to be substantial,” says the LPI. “Both preschool and elementary school quality also make a difference for the strength of ongoing effects in terms of achievement, school progress, and attainment.”
But why? Perhaps it’s the social environment of preschool learning. By the time kids enter elementary school, they’ve spent several years in a classroom setting, which potentially provides them with a learning advantage.
Children who enroll in a good-quality preschool have better vocabularies than children who don’t, says research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
Also, these children are more likely to have stronger early math skills.
A language immersion preschool, where kids are encouraged to speak another language like Spanish, is a great option for high quality, center-based preschool education. Incorporating children into a physical language immersion environment serves two purposes:
Kids can interact with other kids in a COVID-secure learning environment, which nurtures friendship, promotes purpose, and boosts engagement.
Kids can immerse themselves in a new language and soon develop the brain patterns of a native speaker.
These dual benefits — socialization and language acquisition — provide preschoolers with a range of life-long skills, such as improved executive function, cultural tolerance, and better chance of success in the future.
A high-quality language immersion preschool, where children gain a new understanding of their own language (as well as learning a new language), should further strengthen vocabularies. Socialization could be fuelling these broader vocabularies. In a classroom setting, kids in early childhood development exchange information, collaborate on projects, make friends, and cooperate.
Silvia Piedrasanta, Executive Director of KSS Immersion Schools, speaks to the cultural benefits of learning about another language and culture at a young age.
“Empowered with a second language and appreciation for cultural diversity, our students are ready to embrace the multicultural world they will be running one day.”
Silvia believes in the value of a curriculum in preschool, yet also emphasizes the importance of responding to children’s needs and interests.
“If we’re focusing on shapes in class but one of the students recently saw a bat, all the students want to talk about bats, we try to incorporate the current interests of students into our lesson plan and be as flexible as possible.”
Those types of learning opportunities are more likely to arise in a group setting where children are encouraged to communicate with their peers, regardless of what language they speak! Time with friends is a crucial part of childhood and loneliness that can arise out of isolation could lead to depression or other mental health issues. Bilingual preschoolers who enroll in a language immersion program have the opportunity to develop enhanced social skills, experience improved emotional wellness, and foster life-long friendships. And, with the right precautions, there’s no reason why children can’t prosper in a safe, COVID safety protocol-compliant learning environment.
About KSS Immersion Schools
At KSS Immersion Schools, the top priority is a safe and healthy environment for students, their families and our faculty and staff. Our COVID operations plan has been prepared after careful review of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), state and county public health departments, and Community Care Licensing guidelines. KSS Immersion Schools specialize in Spanish language immersion programs for preschoolers in the San Francisco Bay Area including Albany, Oakland, San Jose, and Walnut Creek. Children aged two to six (2-6) can enroll in these programs and improve their learning outcomes in a safe, COVID safety protocol-compliant setting. Learn more at KSSPreschool.com.