The early education landscape is changing, with more daycare centers ditching the traditional preschool curriculum for a more enriching curriculum. This is in a bid to raise the standards for early childhood learning, especially in preschool—the foundation for all learning.
Families looking for preschool enrichment programs consider activities that enrich their children’s learning and promote holistic development. Enrichment activities like sports, arts, and foreign languages stimulate children’s minds, setting them up for holistic growth and development.
Implementing an enrichment program is a sure way to attract more families to your program and increase your preschool enrollment rates. We’ve put together this complete guide to show why you should consider enrichment programs in your preschool program.
What are enrichment programs?
Enrichment programs are activities that stimulate children’s minds, encourage them to be creative, and nurture their natural talents and other abilities. Examples of enrichment programs for preschoolers are visual arts, performing arts, foreign languages, sports, computer-based learning, and cooking classes.
Who are enrichment programs for?
Enrichment programs accommodate all children, regardless of their abilities and background. They provide opportunities for children to discover and cultivate their natural talents and passions. Enrichment programs are designed for:
Any child looking to have fun outside the classroom
Enrichment programs are great for any child looking to have fun outside the classroom. Fun and play are crucial for early childhood development since they connect to the domains of development.
Play improves children's abilities to plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions. Art, sports, and recreational enrichment programs go a long way to promote fun and enjoyment outside the usual academic environment.
Families looking to support their children’s holistic growth
Enrichment programs offer a variety of developmentally appropriate classes like sports and recreation, cooking, and foreign languages. Families may look to enroll their children in an enrichment program to provide additional opportunities for a child to improve underdeveloped skills or challenge children in areas they excel.
Creative and naturally gifted children
Some children possess more creative gifts. They can use enrichment programs to nurture and take their gifts and passions to the next level. Also, children yet to find their passions can discover new interests by attending enrichment classes like music and art.
Childcare business owners looking to increase enrollment rates
Enrichment programs are valuable and give childcare centers a competitive advantage. Preschools that offer enrichment programs are more attractive to families.
Characteristics of a successful enrichment program
Enrichment programs succeed when all stakeholders—children, teachers, parents, and the community—are actively involved. Below are the things that make successful enrichment programs.
- Committed instructors: Qualified enrichment program instructors are usually subject matter experts. For example, music teachers facilitate music enrichment classes. They are also qualified to work with young children and have child development expertise to design age-appropriate lessons and activities.
- Well-structured programs: Enrichment programs are well-structured to accommodate all children, regardless of their age, abilities, or background. Each program considers optimal duration and class-size, and different mastery levels or the ability to offer individualized instruction and activities for beginners versus children with more experience.
- A variety of classes/activities: We recommend offering enrichment classes that appeal to children with different interests and skill sets, and that may not be part of their everyday classroom experience. Things like dance, woodworking, learning to play an instrument, or pottery are all unique ways to support children's overall development.
- Activities where a child can explore a topic or skills in depth. Enrichment programs often offer classes that allow children to explore and learn a subject matter in depth such as a foreign language, coding, and dance.
As you weigh your options for which enrichment classes to offer, survey your families to narrow down the options. Check out our free template for family survey questions to ensure that you're getting the most valuable feedback on your current program and future offers.
10 benefits of offering enrichment programs
Enrichment programs bring out the best in children and help them realize their full potential in extracurricular opportunities. Below we dive deep into the importance of enrichment activities and why you should consider offering them.
1. Brings together children with different backgrounds
Enrichment programs connect children that would otherwise not work or play together under typical circumstances. These programs are valuable and attract children from the same or different communities, which is great for children’s social development.
2. Keeps children engaged during summer and other school breaks
For preschool programs with a traditional summer break, offering summer enrichment programs or a “summer camp” allows families to enroll their children in fun and engaging programs to support their development without compromising their summer break. This is also true for other school breaks throughout the year when parents are working and in need of programs that offer exciting learning opportunities and care during the day.
3. Nurtures children’s talents
Every child is unique and has special abilities. It takes time to cultivate hidden talents and potential in children. One way to discover children's natural gifts is by enrolling them in enrichment programs. These programs help children, families, and instructors identify and nurture natural talent.
4. Exposes children to different teachers
Exposure to different teachers and teaching styles can be beneficial for young children. This is often an excellent opportunity for preschoolers to experience building different relationships with other adults, responding to different teaching styles, and engaging in a variety of novel learning opportunities.
5. Offers different topics
Enrichment programs offer a variety of topics to support children’s holistic development that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore in depth at such a young age. Examples of popular options for enrichment programs include foreign languages, art, science, technology, sports, and recreation activities. These programs provide an opportunity to raise well-rounded children.
6. Increases interest in learning
Enrichment programs are fun and interesting and stir up passion in children to develop creativity by pursuing exciting subjects like art and music. In particular, art is important for early childhood development and helps children develop vocabulary, complex thinking, observation, exploration, and problem-solving skills.
7. Boosts children’s confidence and self-esteem
Throughout development, some children may experience low self-esteem and low confidence that may manifest itself as avoiding challenges and making excuses for not wanting to engage in certain activities. The good news is that children can acquire confidence and self-esteem through more creative and physical activities that speak to their interests and talents. Enrichment activities like art, music, and dance go a long way in helping children become more confident.
8. Gives childcare centers a competitive advantage
Offering enrichment programs at your childcare center can give you a competitive advantage and an edge over competitors. It’s an excellent marketing strategy to attract more families and increase your preschool enrollment rate.
9. Give teachers time back
If enrichment programs are held during the school day, preschool teachers can take a break during the day while the children are attending enrichment programs. This is an opportunity for teachers to prepare lesson plans, participate in meetings with their teaching team, connect with a family, or take care of any one of the many other responsibilities they have in supporting the education of young children.
10. Families don’t need to enroll children in additional extracurricular activities
Offering enrichment programs is convenient for families since they don’t have to enroll their children elsewhere for extracurricular activities. It helps them save on the cost and time they’d spend looking for relevant programs elsewhere. In addition, families can have peace of mind knowing that their child’s educational, recreational, and social needs are all in the same hands of the school they trust.
What are the most popular types of enrichment programs available?
Enrichment programs take many different forms. The most common types of enrichment programs are music, sports and recreation, arts, STEM, cooking, and foreign language enrichment programs.
Alongside learning a new language, children benefit from learning about a new culture and expanding their world view. Most foreign language enrichment programs offer languages like French, Spanish, and Mandarin.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM in early childhood education supports learning early scientific and mathematical concepts. STEM introduces preschoolers to pre-science and pre-maths skills like observing, classifying, comparing, measuring, communicating, predicting, counting, and problem-solving.
Art enrichment programs allow children to discover and develop their artistic abilities. Examples of programs in an art enrichment program are photography, music, painting, pottery, and dance.
Sports and recreation
Sports and recreation enrichment programs offer children the opportunity for holistic physical growth and development. Some schools offer limited physical activities for children, creating demand for sports and recreation activities in age-appropriate ways for young children.
After-school sports and recreational enrichment programs bridge the gap and provide children with the opportunity to improve their physical well-being. Examples of sports and recreation programs include soccer, tee ball, and martial arts.
Cooking is an incredible enrichment activity for preschoolers. Cooking classes provide preschoolers with the opportunity to learn about health, nutrition, and new foods. Cooking also develops math skills, vocabulary, exploration, and confidence.
How do you create an enrichment program?
Creating an enrichment program is fun and exciting when you know what you're doing. Below is a quick rundown of how to create an enrichment program.
- Research to find age-appropriate enrichment programs for young children.
- Decide types of classes and frequency of offerings (e.g., daily, weekly, or monthly).
- Consider hiring staff if you plan to run a big program.
- Create a budget.
- Market your program to attract families from within and outside your community.
Enrichment programs go a long way in supporting children to reach their fullest developmental potential. They also boost children’s confidence and self-esteem and increase interest in learning by offering a variety of learning opportunities.
Adding enrichment activities to your center strengthens your preschool program and adds meaningful value to the children and families in your community.