Best Pre-School Education for Academically Advanced Children?? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-16-2005, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Any opinions on what types of pre-schools or kindegartens tend to work best for very curious, intelligent, book-loving pre-schoolers"? (I don't want to say "gifted" b/c all children are, of course, gifted in a variety of ways). Fortunately I live in an area where there are quite a few choices (Montessori, Waldorf, parochial, private, etc.) I am wondering about: ....(1) What is the best age at which to begin pre-school; (2) What type of "schedule" works best? (all-day a couple of days a week or half days). Of course I understand that each child is different and what works for one will not work for all. I am not positively set on sending my child to pre-school at all, but I am worried about just throwing a child into today's all-day kindergarten schedule. I have heard some good things about Montessori schools - in your opinion, how does Montessori compare with parochial/traditional methods? Personally, I attended parochial schools and could have been more "challenged." In retrospect, I also do not admire the emphasis on memorization. I would like a school that fosters and emphasizes "understanding" behind math, science, literature. Thanks in advance. I am new to these boards and wasn't sure if this was the "right" place to post this thread.
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Old 09-16-2005, 03:04 PM
 
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Caveat: my DD is not in preschool yet, but we are looking into this.

We have actually decided that we will send DD, whom we consider gifted/advanced, to a play-based preschool without an academic emphasis. Why? I'm sitting here trying to put this subtly, but it's too hard, so I'll just say it: she already knows all that stuff. Academic preschools are going to spend a lot of time on numbers, letters, counting, etc., but if your child already has these skills, he/she is likely to be bored.

We might consider Montessori, but I don't like the way they deemphasize play and creativity. I find the philosophy behind Waldorf objectionable and near cult-like, so that it also not our cup of tea.

Basically, we are looking at preschool as a time for play and socialization. She has lots of time for academic stuff, and in any case, we can do some of that home, at HER pace.

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Old 09-16-2005, 03:31 PM
 
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What about a language-immersion preschool? That could give a new experience to a child who already knows the letters & numbers stuff. Where we used to live there were several spanish-immersion preschools. None where we currently live tho
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Old 09-16-2005, 03:42 PM
 
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Old 09-16-2005, 04:27 PM
 
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We went the same route as loraxc.

The local co-op has 2.5 hour, 2 day a week for 3 year olds and 2.5 hour, 3 day a week for 4 year olds. Their "academic" focus is almost entirely on doing things as a group (so, if you know how many bears there are, raising your hand, speaking clearly, etc...) and only takes up about 5 minutes a day. They get an hour of free play indoors, a story, free play outdoors, a snack (they make themselves) and show and tell.

DD has been identified as gifted at this point (though we certainly were aware of it then) and she had mostly positive experiences. We didn't want her in an academic preschool where they would be encouraging the kids to learn their alphabet and how to count when she was reading "Magic Tree House" and understanding multiplication, kwim? We kept her out of school until this year when she entered a full time gifted education program (she is 6.5 now, btw).

BUT, I *personally* don't really "believe in" seperation of children from their parents for long periods of time at that age (3-4). I had always liked the Montessori philosophy when applied correctly, but could not imagine sending a 3 year old daily and a 4 year old full time.

Since you are new, you might not know about the thread in Special Needs--- "Addressing the Special Needs of Gifted Children":
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=330147

HTH

 

 

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Old 09-16-2005, 08:24 PM
 
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Homeschool is what worked for my dd. I put her in two preschools. It was a hassle, and it was not cheap. One was for bright children. I felt the schedule and one-size-fits-all approach didn't work for her. Now she's homeschooled at K-1 level and doing great! She has the freedom to choose her pace, spend as long as she wants on her art projects, and be self-driven in the subjects she's most interested in. It's very convenient for me to not have to take her to school and park and walk her in, only to repeat in 2 hours.

I have found plenty of activities for her to be around other kids. Next year she'll be attending an all day enrichment program for homeschooled kids, in a class with her age group. It has been the ideal for our family.

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Old 09-17-2005, 04:43 AM
 
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Check out the Montessori school(s) near you and see what you think. The work period (2-3 hours) will be focused on academics or practical life, but the children direct their own learning and learn at their own pace. The rest of the day should be less academic (outside time, language, music, art). That's how the AMS-certified M school in our area is.
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Old 09-17-2005, 08:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
We have actually decided that we will send DD, whom we consider gifted/advanced, to a play-based preschool without an academic emphasis.
This is what we did as well for pre-school. It is working out well. We picked a program that emphasises communication and understanding feeling that is all play based. They communicate with the children in the same manner as we do; a positive approach to conflict resolution and emotional understanding.

We have decided that if we do not homeschool her for K+ she will go to a Reggio Emilia based school. We happen to have one in town that has actually taken RE concepts through elementary (albeit expensive) but that's our first choice. I would suggest looking into play based programs and RE schools.

It depends though on how your child learns. We've stuck to child initiated learning at home and with it she advanced on her own (guiding us through her education). She was writing and reading letters by 3 etc. and we figured any standard education based system would either bore her or drive her crazy. If your child learns more through book work or flash card type education then this may not be the system for you. But, if your DC has learned through play based interaction or is just an observant kid who picks everything up then I would really suggest looking into RE schools.

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Old 09-17-2005, 08:32 PM
 
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I think if you are wanting to send your child to an "academic" preschool, you're really going to have to look at each school individually and decide how it fits your child. Lorax summed up my feelings well. Schools whose philosophies sound good on paper may not be good for a gifted child in a practical sense.

We ended up homeschooling, but if I had sent my kids to a preschool it would have been one that was just for fun. I went to a YMCA preschool when I was 3/4 and we did swimming and games and crafts. That's the type I would consider. If your child is truly advanced, they no doubt already know everything taught in an academic preschool, so it would most likely be a waste of money at best and stressful for the child at worst.
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Old 09-17-2005, 08:53 PM
 
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Freeman, I also encourage you to check out the Montessori board over in Education>Learning at School.

What I like about M good schools are the independent learning, learning about all subjects - not just reading and math, what we consider "academic" in the US - and emphasis on cooperation instead of competition. So my daughter is never bored unless she chooses to be so -she asks for a lesson focused what she's interested in and the teacher will show her one-on-one (or an older child will). Right now, it's sewing, fractions, and time. She also gives lessons to other children once she's learned it, if they wish to learn. The supposed deemphasis on creativity is not something that I've noticed: my daughter's school has art materials available, drama, lots of creative expression. We're not hurting for creativity around here. Now that she's learning to sew, we have clothing for dolls and homemade costumes everywhere to go with the puppet shows...

Just visit some schools by you and see if they feel "right." If you like the other parents. If you like the teacher...if they feel neither too rigid nor too lenient...ours even has an organic farm! Also see how they deal with discipline and encouragement - it will probably be very different from other schools.

I also really like Reggio Emilia schools and schools that use the phrase "inquiry-based learning" are great for children who love to learn in a creative way (no flash cards, no rote memorization, no textbooks). RE schools are usually inquiry-based, which is a wonderful way to learn as well. The children design their own curriculum, usually.
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Old 09-18-2005, 02:27 PM
 
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We are also looking into Reggio Emilia, as we have a RE-based coop preschool just starting here (it's more of a play location than anything at this point, as they don't even have teachers yet).

The creativity emphasis seems to vary a lot from Montessori to Montessori, but my understanding is that the more "pure" Montessori schools will not offer pretend play, such as dress-up and play kitchens.

I have heard mixed reviews, generally, of Montessori for gifted kids , so I think it's very much a see-what-you-think kind of deal. I know they do a lot of skill-graduated small-motor tasks, and you can't "move on" to the next one till you master the last, which my DD might find frustrating as her interests do not match her abilities in that area.

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Old 09-18-2005, 08:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
We are also looking into Reggio Emilia, as we have a RE-based coop preschool just starting here (it's more of a play location than anything at this point, as they don't even have teachers yet).

The creativity emphasis seems to vary a lot from Montessori to Montessori, but my understanding is that the more "pure" Montessori schools will not offer pretend play, such as dress-up and play kitchens.

I have heard mixed reviews, generally, of Montessori for gifted kids , so I think it's very much a see-what-you-think kind of deal. I know they do a lot of skill-graduated small-motor tasks, and you can't "move on" to the next one till you master the last, which my DD might find frustrating as her interests do not match her abilities in that area.
This hasn't been our experience, at least. I guess for me, creativity is not necessarily defined by having a dressup corner or play kitchens. We've got that at home, and she's not into it here either, unless it's fabric scraps and stuff she stole out of my kitchen. They have real kitchens, with real knives, and real (breakable) plates. It's awesome, and the kids feel very trusted. There is lots of great art available, no cookie-cutter crafts. They do a lot of storytelling and writing. She attends a school that is taught by supposedly the most strict of all branches (AMI) although her teachers are super sweet and very creative themselves. I guess the school you observed was more rigid?

You can absolutely move on to the next one without mastering the last, if the last was too easy or boring for a child. My own skipped a lot of tasks if they were too easy or her skills didn't match her abilities (she has had problems with writing). I'm sure there are probably schools that don't do it this way, and it's worth asking about - i.e. how do children help determine their own readiness? Does the teacher truly follow the child?

I think Reggio Emilia is markedly different from most play-based preschools because most (that I've observed) take children's interests very seriously and don't try to fit them into a box or preformed curricululum. They follow the child or group of children in their interests. I love the amusement park for ants project that you can find on the web...and most schools have fairly high expectations as to what children are capable of, creatively and mentally. But RE schools here just go to preK and are extremely expensive, probably because they actually pay staff a living wage...and I love the light boxes at RE schools...
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Old 09-18-2005, 09:01 PM
 
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This hasn't been our experience, at least. I guess for me, creativity is not necessarily defined by having a dressup corner or play kitchens. We've got that at home, and she's not into it here either, unless it's fabric scraps and stuff she stole out of my kitchen. They have real kitchens, with real knives, and real (breakable) plates. It's awesome, and the kids feel very trusted. There is lots of great art available, no cookie-cutter crafts. They do a lot of storytelling and writing. She attends a school that is taught by supposedly the most strict of all branches (AMI) although her teachers are super sweet and very creative themselves. I guess the school you observed was more rigid?
I just wrote a long response and the computer ate it, but this quote sums it up nicely. Ds's Montessori school is a lot like what the pp described. He paints, makes paper sculptures (a favorite artform for him), makes up songs and performs them during circle time, learns yoga, hears Spanish, gardens, builds friendships, learns about so many different things (comes home and says things that really surprise me)...and yes, does tons of pretend play outdoors on the playground, not because the teachers are too rigid to not let them do things inside, but because there is so much more to experience in the classroom!

I think it's perfect for someone who is advanced academically. The teacher looks at the individual needs of each child, and has plenty available for children who are ready for more difficult academic work...they don't have to wait until the rest of the class is ready to move on before they start this work, they do it when they are ready.
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Old 09-18-2005, 09:26 PM
 
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Fair enough. I'm speaking only from my experiences and knowledge. Montessori schools seem to vary enormously.

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Old 09-18-2005, 10:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamaley
makes up songs and performs them during circle time
Have you ever gone to observe during this time? I love the made up songs. I had such a hard time keeping a straight face...but the teachers, to their complete credit, take their songs very seriously and never laugh (unless the child is or is trying to be funny), and say "thank you for sharing." But it was hard not to laugh to songs set to the tune of "twinkle twinkle" that are along the lines of...

"my dog is named chicken soup
and he eats soup
and he runs after stars
and not noodles
but noodles are also yummy
but not as yummy as cake
made by the easter bunny
and his mom who doesn't give the
besssst cannnnnndy
THE END!"

This was a three year old, who took his song very seriously.
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Old 09-19-2005, 01:55 PM
 
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:LOL No, I haven't...I would like to observe but dd is always with me and she would be quite a distraction. His teacher told me about it at a conference and I thought it was so funny...ds and I sing to each other all the time, it's like living in a musical. It's pretty goofy.

Sorry to hijack...
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