Q:

My 3-year-old daughter is going off to preschool. How will the school go about teaching her the basic skills of reading, writing and math? -- Curious

A:

At this age, most preschools are teaching children the basic skills of reading, math and writing through many different fun activities and games. The instruction is not going to look like the more formal approach of kindergarten and first grade.

The process of preparing young children to read is called "emergent literacy." This involves the teacher reading aloud to the class and frequently stopping to ask a question like "What do you think will happen next?" The teacher will also have the children recite rhymes and poems and sing songs. Many objects in the classroom will be labeled so the children can begin to associate print with words. In addition, time will be spent in the beginning to recognize letters and their sounds.

Math is far more than numbers. In order to build math skills, your daughter will be taught to count, sort, categorize and compare objects. She will practice counting daily on a classroom calendar, and she will manipulate objects of different shapes and colors as she builds with blocks.

To be prepared to write, your daughter will have her fine motor skills developed through arts and crafts in preschool. She will do such things as paint, draw, color and glue. This will put her on the road to having the skill to use pencils and other writing instruments.

The 3Rs are not the only skills your child will pick up in preschool. She is likely to be exposed to science through handling and even experimenting with objects in the classroom and playing outside. She will learn even more about science through toys like water and sand tables. And her early training in social studies will be devoted to picking up the social skills needed to function successfully in school.