“Preschool” means the same as “Nursery” or “Playgroup” in the UK and refers to the provision and delivery of education and development for children from birth to age five, before the start of compulsory education. The term “Kindergarten” means the same and was first used by a German educationalist named Friedrich FrÖbel in the early 1800′s; however is not used as commonly in the UK to describe preschool.
Sometimes in the UK, the term “kindergarten” is used to describe a private or specialist type of “nursery” organisation where full-day child care is provided for parents who have career commitments. The preschool period is when children learn the fastest as they develop and discover new things. The foundation programme of preschool is sometimes termed FS1 and has an outlined curriculum for preschool children to follow.
Why preschool or kindergarten?
The goal is to allow children of preschool age to explore as much as possible as part of their developmental learning. Preschool educationalists strive to improve best practice in such environments to allow children to grow personally, emotionally and socially.
People working in childcare preschool settings have an influence on how these children grow and develop as a foundation for the rest of their lives. For this reason, the UK government has placed an emphasis on early learning with a child-centred approach.
Primary schools and preschool
Certain government primary schools offer preschool as an additional service if financed by the government for children from age three onwards. Otherwise, preschools are also available through private sector or voluntary funding. The services provided may include planned pre-school learning and a provision for child-minding facilities. Each local education authority may develop different policies related to preschool activities. After completing preschool, children in the UK enter compulsory schooling through a process known as “reception”.
Provision of preschool education
Pre-school education may also be delivered through childcare centres, playgroups, nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools. In the UK, preschool education is funded by local councils and each child is entitled to five two-and-a-half lessons per week. The Department for Children, Schools and Families produce early learning goals for the education of children between age three and four before starting Primary School. Preschool children are educated in their knowledge and understanding of the world, their ways of communicating, their creativity, their physical and cognitive development, language, literacy, and numeracy / mathematics and also their ability to cope and help themselves.
Working in a preschool / kindergarten setting
To work as a nursery assistant, playworker, or a childminder, carries responsibility in safeguarding the wellbeing and also the education of the child. For this reason, assistants either need to work under supervision through modern apprenticeships or meet minimum standards in qualification, such as a Foundation Award in Caring for Children (CACHE) or Level 2 Certificate in Child Care and Education (CACHE). Other bodies offering educational qualifications include EDEXCEL, C&G and NCFE. Career prospects include working for voluntary or community groups, hospitals, local authority organisations, schools, colleges and private businesses.