Preschool Helps Children Develop Social Skills

Starke County Preschool Project logoThe Starke County Early Education Advisory Council invites families with young children to a preschool fair this evening from 5 until 7 at the community center in downtown Knox. More than 25 preschools and community organizations will have booths, and several will offer activities for children. Porter-Starke Director of Children’s Services Todd Willis says preschool is a good opportunity for children and parents to get used to being away from one another. He says one of the main causes of stress for young children is separating from their family, so getting them into an environment where they can learn to take turns and make peer relationships outside the family is extremely important.

“When I don’t learn as a young child how to resolve conflict with my peer, and I need to resort to throwing a temper tantrum or aggression, if those basic skills are not learned early, they follow the kid into adulthood. Really, the opportunity for a child in that 3 to 4 age learning that early is crucial,” Willis says.

Some people consider preschool to be glorified babysitting. Willis says that’s not the case.

“For children, play is their work. You look at how adults learn, and they learn through work. They learn through school. Kids, young kids in particular, they learn through play. Giving opportunities where they can learn with other kids and play in group definitely meets some of those later-in-life skill sets.”

Willis says preschool also helps youngsters learn things like curiosity, initiative, persistence, engagement. He adds research indicates children’s brains grow and develop the fastest from birth through age 6.

The Starke County Community Foundation offers preschool scholarships for families who make too much money to qualify for head start but can’t afford to send their children to a private preschool. Information about that program will be available at tonight’s evening’s event. A free, kid-friendly meal will also be served. Other participating organizations include the Starke County public libraries, First Steps, local schools, WIC, Dunebrook, Community Services of Starke County, IU-Health, HealthLinc, Healthy Families and many others. The fair is sponsored by IU Health Starke Hospital, the Starke County Community Foundation and Moving Starke County Forward. For more information, contact Sarah Origer at the Starke County Community Foundation at 574-772-3665 or by email at