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cooperative home preschool or "formal" preschool?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hello Everyone!

I have a 4 year old son who is shy in new situations, but is also very spirited once he is comfortable.

This year he did not attend a formal preschool, but we did one with some friends. Each of us moms takes a turn teaching a lesson. There were six of us, so we hosted and taught at our own houses every six weeks. I am a helper another week and then I am free for 4 weeks. I usually leave and take a walk.

Overall it has been a very good experience for me and my son. There have been a few problems, but nothing is perfect.

Next year my husband would like our son to be in a regular preschool. He wants him to get used to being in larger classes (most preschools seem to have about 15 kids), and to get away from me more. He is worried about our son going from such a small, protected class to kindergarden with 20 students (or more).

He is willing for him to do both, but I am not so sure that I want to be that busy. I am slightly leaning towards the home cooperative preschool, but I don't have to do it. I feel like he will be academically ready for Kindergarden either way.

What is everyone's opinion about kids being prepared for kindergarden?

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

Thanks, Collette
post #2 of 4
Hi Collette,
I am a big fan of preschool - it was a wonderful and helpful experience for my dd1. Dd2 will start this fall and I am so excited for her.

I can see the upside in your neighborhood co-op that you have been doing but I agree with your husband that it is a much smaller environment than he will find in kindergarten - I am sure it is fun and educational but maybe not as good of a prep for kindergarten as a formal preschool would be.

Are there any co-op preschools in your area? These are usually run through community colleges (at least in the state where I live). My dd1 went to one when she was three. Two mornings a week for 2 1/2 hours a day. One of those days I dropped her off and one of those days I stayed to work at school. So each day there was one teacher, 16 kids and 8 parents. It was a wonderful program!

If you want to go to a total drop-off program (my dd1 did this when she was four - also a good experience), try calling all preschools listed in your local yellow pages and asking them if they are affiliated with or accredited by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). Ask if their teachers attend any of the state or national conferences yearly. This alone will weed out a lot of preschools. I would go check out the ones who at least follow NAEYC's guidelines (one of the big ones is DAP - developmentally appropriate practices).

Finding a preschool you are comfortable and happy with is a big research job - lots of time on the phone and talking to friends about their experiences and going in to check out preschools in person (try for the end of the day when you can chat with the teacher after) but it is worth it to find the perfect place for your child. The teacher is the biggest part - try not to get too caught up in how new/old the toys are or who has the fanciest play structure outside. Having a fantastic teacher and a good overall program is more important than the fanciness/newness of a school.
Kirsten
post #3 of 4
I agree with Kirsten, the teachers are the most important part, but to get through NAEYC accredidation you'd have to be pretty sharp and have great practices. I have been in so many preschool settings though, where the teachers didn't even seem to like kids!

It might make sense to talk to the school you plan to send your child to for k-garten, to find out what their expectations are for k-garten readiness. Some schools are more demanding than others on this, and the school will already know (roughly) how many kids are going to be in your child's k-garten class, by town records. I think there is a lot of value in a structured preschool if the k-garten expects kids to come in with those experiences in place. If the k-garten plans to teach those skills (I'm thinking more of the social ones-- how to sit in circle time, how to wait in line, how to lose a game gracefully, how to clean up cooperatively), then the informal preschool would probably be fine.

I was a little concerned about your partner's motive just to have your son "get away from" you more. Can you say more about that?
post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally posted by lauren
I think there is a lot of value in a structured preschool if the k-garten expects kids to come in with those experiences in place. If the k-garten plans to teach those skills (I'm thinking more of the social ones-- how to sit in circle time, how to wait in line, how to lose a game gracefully, how to clean up cooperatively), then the informal preschool would probably be fine.
I think this is a good idea - to ask the kindergarten teacher what percentage of the incoming kindergarteners have had a year or two of preschool. My assumption (just based on the kids I know and those who were in dd1's kindergarten class) is that 95% of kids go to preschool these days (at least where I live) - most of those went for two years (what seems to be common here is two or three half days when three years old and three or four half days when four years old then five half or full days in kindergarten).
I think preschool is not about academics but about practice in the social things that lauren mentioned. My dd1 was (in my never so humble opinion) plenty advanced in ABCs, 123s, attention span, etc. but the large group practice (the ins and outs of how to be in a large group of peers in the school setting) was invaluable!
In a neighborhood co-op, the "teacher" is always changing (all moms take a turn?) and with only a third or fourth of the class size of a kindergarten classroom, I think there are definite differences between that and a more formal preschool with one set teacher and 16 to 20 kids.
I think transitioning from his first year of neighborhood co-op into a second year of something a little more formal (I really think you'd like a co-op preschool) would be easy for both of you to do and give him some more classroom experience at the same time.
Re: a little time away from you - I am not nearly as AP as most on these boards but that comment from your dh doesn't seem bad to me. I am a better mom when I get breaks - being a mom is a big job! And it is ok for a child to learn that there are other people he can trust and have fun with. For my dd1, the teacher and other moms in co-op preschool (on my non-work days) were so kind and helpful to her - I liked that she could go to them for help or a hug if she needed it.
Kirsten
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