You may wonder, as you begin to research preschools, what your child is actually supposed to be learning at this age and from this experience. It may surprise you to know that you determine the answer to that question by voting with your preschool fees. There is no real system of accreditation for preschools in the United States. Most certifications have to do with preschool health and safety rather than preschool academics. In addition, the basic curriculum of most preschools is actually taken from kindergarten curriculums.
The two types of school cover the same basic material simply because not all children are required to go to preschool and it would be a problem if they missed out on the material due to changes in kindergarten curricula. This means that preschools are free to bend to the whims of the market and offer some unique educational options.
The basics of what you can expect a preschool child to learn are broken down by age and level of development.
For two your olds, preschool is a social and physical experience rather than an academic one. At this age:
Three year olds in preschool spend time developing during unstructured play and learning more building block skills. At this age:
Four year olds are revving up for kindergarten and future academic success. At this age:
That is a lot to learn in just three years in a preschool classroom, but it's really just the tip of the academic iceberg. You can find preschools that offer focused academic work designed to give your child a leg up on their education as well as preschools that focus their attention on language acquisition and immersion. If you want to expose your child to the family faith, then there are preschools that cater to religious education. Whatever you want your child to learn, there is a preschool that will offer that curriculum at an age appropriate level. For most parents the limiting factor isn't academics, but price.