I don't remember anything from preschool—not even the name of my teacher or how my preschool looked from the outside or even the name of my teacher, and that's why preschool is so devalued, I suppose, because people wonder what the point is when kids are too young to learn anything.

I don't think preschool is an absolute waste though, and although you shouldn't expect your preschooler to master all their letters and numbers, you can at least expect them to be prepared for the true start of school life in kindergarten.

TEKS, which form the basis of Texas standards for education, begin with kindergarten, as does 'real schooling' in the eyes of most parents. It may not be mandatory, but parents who didn't send their children to preschool are eager to have them acclimated into the grinding wheels of the education system once their kid is old enough to be enrolled as a kindergarten.

What I've noticed, from observing kindergarteners the past few weeks, is that they are unpredictable, unbridled and children in almost every sense of the word.

Their world doesn't extend much farther than themselves and in their eyes, "me" is the most powerful and only concept they must understand. They are also sweet, ready to please and love, and forever hopeful in what each new moment can bring. My big discovery though was that you could tell with a look which kindergarteners have been to preschool.

It isn't just that they're the ones who can recognize their capital and lowercase letters, who know their shapes and colors and who can hold a pencil the right way, although I've seen all of these things too. Some of them can spell words and write letters and others already know about important reading and math concepts that are outlined in the TEKS.

It's the other school and life skills that really show which kids went to preschool though.

Yes, they may be the ones who come up repeatedly to ask when it will be naptime, but they'll also be the kids who can sit up straight on the carpet without rolling around and know what it means to follow direction.

They understand consequences and are accustomed enough to school to know what rewards and consequences are and that your teacher is not the same thing as your mother. The precocious ones have even mastered that most elusive, aggravating skill of being able to tie their shoes without any help.

So, preschool isn't just a daycare full of naps, snacks and unchaperoned fun, nor is it a torture house that transforms children into miniature adults before their time. It is where students learn skills, like listening and sharing that will stick with them not only through kindergarten but their entire lives.