When you were growing up, you may or may not have gone to preschool, but chances are that if you did, your parents just chose a preschool that was convenient to their location or that their friends had children in as well. And if you didn't go to preschool, the odds are that it didn't make much – or any – difference to your overall school career. In today's educational system, however, not only are there a wider variety of preschool programs to choose from, the choice is more important than it used to be. Elementary schools are more competitive, especially if you're considering private or charter schools. Kindergarten is far more academic than it used to be, which means that kids really need the classroom preparation that they'll get in preschool in order to be prepared for it. That means that choosing the right preschool for your child is very important. Take a look at some of the common preschool philosophies that you're likely to find in your area so that you can choose which one will best meet your child's needs.
Play-based preschools may also call themselves "progressive", Bank Street" or "child-centered" preschools. Play-based, however, is a good description for the general philosophy behind all of these schools, which is that children learn best through imaginative play, largely without any pre-planned curriculum, and with a large emphasis on social play.
Children lead the way in this type of setting, choosing how and what they want to play with. The classroom is likely to contain a variety of centers, with each center offering a different type of activity. For example, one center may contain blocks and puzzles, another center may hold costumes for dress-up play, and yet another may contain fingerpaints, easels, crayons, and other art supplies. Children decide where they're going to play, and teachers encourage and facilitate the children's endeavors, rather than instructing. Children play in small groups at different centers, instead of all doing the same things at the same time.
Play-based preschools are a good choice if you plan to put your child into a progressive or democratic elementary school, or if you plan to homeschool with a less academic approach. However, if you have your eye on a highly competitive private, charter, or magnet school, then you may need a preschool that takes a more academic approach. Generally, your child will have to pass a test of some sort to qualify for the more academic schools, and there's no guarantee that a play-based preschool will cover the types of skills found on those tests.
A traditional preschool operates more like a traditional classroom. Your children will still learn through play, as that's developmentally appropriate at the preschool level, but their play will be more structured than the play of children at a play-based preschool. Instead of learning by exploring the materials in the classroom on their own, the teacher will instruct them on which materials to use at what time, and how to use those materials. For example, during the holidays, all children might do an art project that involves cutting out construction paper circles to make a snowman, instead of each child deciding for themselves whether to use the art supplies and what to make with them.
Social activity in a traditional preschool classroom is also more structured. Instead of choosing which children to play with, children will do activities as a class or be divided up by the teacher into teams or groups.
Traditional preschools are a good choice for children who will be moving on to public or private kindergarten, and may be a good choice for children who headed to competitive charter or magnet schools, depending on the exact curriculum. In some areas, certain preschools act as feeder schools for competitive or selective private, charter, or magnet schools in the area. If you have your eye on a particular elementary school, you may want to find out if there's a preschool in the area that acts as a feeder school, since that's the preschool most likely to prepare your child for the kindergarten you want them to attend.
Choosing the school that will mark the first phase of your child's educational journey is a big deal, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Understanding the common preschool philosophies available in your area and having an idea about what kind of educational path you plan on for your child can help you choose the preschool that suits your family best. You should also possibly consider the child care center that your child currently attends, as they might also have a preschool option.Share
7 December 2016
After my children started school, I knew that I had to do something to improve their comprehension. I started slowly by working with them with their homework, and then I slowly gravitated towards working with them to master the core concepts they were learning in school. It was a lot of work, but my efforts really paid off. After about three months, my children's teachers were reporting improved grades and better mastery of most of the core concepts. This blog is here to help other parents to know how to improve their own child's education so that they can enjoy a happier life.