Virtual Preschool vs. In-Person Preschool: The Pros & Cons
Updated: Mar 11
Virtual Preschool vs. In-Person Preschool: The Pros and Cons
BY DENISE SHIELDS
One of the biggest decisions that parents must weigh these days regarding preschool - after understanding how important preschool attendance is for our youngest children - is whether to have their youngsters attend in-person or virtually.
Here are observations regarding the pros and cons to virtual preschool and in-person preschool.
Virtual preschool - Also Known As Online Preschool
COVID-19 has made virtual education a vital option for children of all ages - even preschoolers. For this age, it’s convenient, and preschool curricula like my own, for example, is prerecorded and can be viewed “on demand,” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This allows learning to fit into any family’s lifestyle and time constraints.
In addition, virtual preschool is much less expensive than traditional school, and there is no commute. Children learn where they are most comfortable - right at home!
Another factor that helps tailor education to each student is the ability for parents using virtual lessons to “pick and choose” based on their child’s learning preferences. The online option also can be used to supplement in-person preschool, lessons are typically no more than 30 minutes - a time frame pretty easy to fit into any child’s daily activities.
Bolstering the relationship between a parent and child is another plus attributable to online learning. Parents must assist children with virtual preschool learning, and during these early schooling years, it’s vital that they stay closely in touch as their child begins to display his or her individual learning style and first gets interested in school. Children can have their initial introduction to school at home via computer, often as early as age 2, and this eliminates “separation anxiety” for these little ones.
Many parents prefer to homeschool their children, and this is another advantage that virtual preschool offers. It’s also an important option for parents who might relocate often due to employment or for other reasons.
Online preschool is not a perfect fit for everyone. One primary drawback is the lack of social interaction that children receive when receiving their education at home. Peer-to-peer play is vital especially for our youngest children as they start out in school, and that is harder to come by when students attend online.
Virtual preschool also requires more time and commitment from parents. The children need assistance to go through online lessons and participate in hands-on projects guided by their teacher in the virtual sessions.
By far the biggest advantage to in-person preschool is the social exposure a child gains by going to traditional face-to-face class. The youngsters are able to interact both with their teacher and with other children, and they make friends, furthering not just their formal education but starting to build social skills as well.
Traditional preschool also requires less parental involvement, with teachers providing in-person instruction and guidance for everything from basic lessons to playtime, to hands-on projects. This can be a huge factor for working parents who cannot carve out as much time for one-on-one learning with their little ones.
One disadvantage to in-person preschool - compared to virtual preschool options, especially - is cost. Attending school at a dedicated building for education is more expensive, and parents also typically must commute with their children to school.
Another drawback to consider is that some preschool-age children, particularly if they are ages 2-3, may not yet be ready to go to school in person. They may need more time at home to grow and prepare for meeting new people and being away from their parents for even just a short amount of the day.
Plus, most in-person preschools require that children be potty trained, and some are just not ready for this at the youngest ages.
TO SUM IT UP
There are advantages and disadvantages to both virtual and in-person preschool. The former has lesser cost but requires more parental involvement, while the latter requires more of a financial investment but brings added bonuses such as social interaction for children.
Many Parents Will Find They Actually Can Have The “Best Of Both Worlds” - taking advantage of both virtual and in-person preschool. For example, they could place their young preschooler, from ages 2-3, in virtual preschool for their first year of this level of education. Then, in year two, their more mature preschooler, from ages 3-5, could attend a traditional in-person preschool.
What’s key is to get children learning - and loving it! Encourage and support all of your child’s learning experiences! Gaining early enjoyment from learning about the world around them will be of great benefit to them all of their lives - both in the classroom and beyond!
About the Author
Denise Shields is a preschool teacher from Fredericksburg, Virginia. When she had to close her Fredericksburg VA preschool last year due to COVID restrictions, Denise brought her preschool program online to offer a virtual experience to young children. She has worked with preschool children for 26 years, with 13 years as a preschool teacher. She is the owner and founder of both Creative Kids Preschool in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the free virtual preschool program called Creative Kids Virtual Preschool, which has helped thousands of families educate their young preschoolers during the COVID-19 pandemic.