How do you know what's the right preschool? - Mothering Forums
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 7 Old 02-20-2004, 03:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
elyen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: N. CA
Posts: 71
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My ds will be 3 in July, so I'm researching preschools right now. I've visited church-based co-ops, the preschool at the Jewish Community Center, a Montessori school, a school that was more "academic", and a big community co-op preschool. At all places, the kids looked happy and stimulated, teacher turnover was low. So, how do you know what's right for your child? Do you find an environment that will allow him to continue the way he is or should you try to make him more "well-rounded?"

For example, does a child with a short attention span benefit from a more structured environment because it begins to prepare him for kindergarten and regular schooling? Or would a setting that allows unrestricted, free choice of activities suit him better?

My ds actually has a pretty good attention span, can concentrate on books and tasks, and has a vivid imagination. My first intuition is that kids should be totally unrestricted, but after visiting a few preschools, another part of me thinks that he's ready for a more structure because he prefers familiar situations, really likes to learn from the teachers in daycare & Sunday School, and because he's starting to seem bored at the daycare he attends 2 days/week (he's now the oldest one there).

Just wondering what other thinking parents would say on this topic!
elyen is offline  
#2 of 7 Old 02-20-2004, 04:10 AM
 
Tanibani's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Southern California
Posts: 3,052
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally posted by elyen
So, how do you know what's right for your child? Do you find an environment that will allow him to continue the way he is or should you try to make him more "well-rounded?"
I started preschool at 3.5 (late... only cause there was a wait list at age 3). How do I know??? I trust my own instincts.

He attends a totally unrestricted Parent Co-op preschool. His class has 50 kids. Parents take turns working 1 or 2 days a week at stations (the child - ages 3-5, chooses the activity).

Quote:
Originally posted by elyen
For example, does a child with a short attention span benefit from a more structured environment because it begins to prepare him for kindergarten and regular schooling? Or would a setting that allows unrestricted, free choice of activities suit him better?
The philosophy I believe is that PLAY (and movement) is essential/building blocks for learning later on. So having them sit down at this early age for structured anything is not necessarily good/beneficial in my book.

Lisa Murphy (click on About) of Ooey Gooey.com writes about this in her new, self-published book "PLAY... The Foundation that Supports the House of Higher Learning"

Bev Bos - another preschool educator who shares this philosophy
Turn the Page

Check out the book Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head

Quote:
Originally posted by elyen
My first intuition is that kids should be totally unrestricted, but after visiting a few preschools, another part of me thinks that he's ready for a more structure because he prefers familiar situations,
Of course children prefer familiar situations. Interestingly, there IS structure at our school. It is not chaotic. There is a group time and the idea of dragging a child away from an activity for mandatory group time used to make me want to shake my head.... or worse, kill somebody. I avoided preschools that did this.

But at his school, it's a free choice. The teacher rings a large bell to let them know (from all corners) that group time is going to happen. She sometimes invites kids to pick up bells to walk around and ring them. When my DS hears it, he (and other children) drop what they are doing and run over. They LOVE the music, animated story time (ever see The Three Little Pigs played out by children? or Raffi's song "frogs on a log"? with kids counting frogs on their fingers???) (My son likes to learn from the teachers too. Except he gets to choose. )

And other children choose to stay doing whatever fun thing they are doing. VERY COOL!

There is structure all over the place. He has to learn to take turns to wash his hands for snack, take turns with other kids as they play... he learns that there is structure in a Domino row also. Everyday he is there (3 days a week, 9-12) he picks up his name tag (order) and at the end I sign him out and he returns the tag (structure again.) There IS structure and order everywhere. Over time, he and I saw this.

Being more "well rounded" Thankfully, his learning environment is so large and varied (lots to choose from, inside and outside play) that that takes care of that issue - for me. He gets to do anything and everything available (different art crafts per day, home made play dough, pretend house, wear costumes, ride trikes, etc...)

So I say... read and trust your instincts. If it doesn't feel right to you, it's not.

Hope my rambling post helped.

10 - boy
5.5 - girl
Tanibani is offline  
#3 of 7 Old 02-20-2004, 06:10 PM
 
Kirsten's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Washington state
Posts: 5,463
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My suggestions would be:
*Go with your gut. You will get a gut feeling about each place - whether good, neutral or bad. You don't want to put your child someplace that is "just ok". Look until you find the place that you are excited about, that gives you that good gut feeling that it is just right.
*Focus on the teacher. A great teacher can overcome old toys, a small budget, a small classroom. Of course, it should be clean but messes will be made when kids are learning through play.
*If preschool age kids are sitting at desks with worksheets, I would personally run the other way. They should be learning through play.
*Is it secure? I have been horrified by how many preschools have doors out of line of sight of the general area - where kids can just slip over and walk out. Is there a secure fence? Heavy, hard to open by kids door? Good ratio of kids to adults?
*NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) has some great info and lists preschools that have been accredited. This is a difficult process though, and many preschools that are just great haven't done it so it is just one thing to look at.
*I think that preschool's main focus should be socialization. They can learn colors, shapes, numbers, letters at home with you but you can't be 16 three year olds. Just my opinion - some like a very academic preschool but I think there is plenty of time for that. They will not be behind if they got to a play based program.
Good luck deciding!
Kirsten
Kirsten is offline  
#4 of 7 Old 02-20-2004, 08:08 PM
 
robin4kids's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: NY
Posts: 366
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Ok, I have tried out many preschools. I have four kids and all but the youngest has gone to preschool. We tried a co-op preschool, that was good, but I had to work there three times a month. I had a nursing baby and they would not let me have the baby there while I helped out. This got me upset, so after a year of that, I decided it was not worth it. I sent my oldest ds to a very academic preschool. I did not know what i was looking for at the time and it seemed fine. Then the teacher kept telling me that my son needed workbooks at home. I am a teacher and so is my husband. This got me mad so after a year at that school we never returned. We finaly found a preschool which we love.

The preschool is low on academic and high on play. They allow my dd to bring whatever doll or toy to school whenever she wants. This is great if your child is reluctant to go to school. My dd loves school and askes to go every day. The kids don't have to do the craft if they don't want to. They have french once a week. This is my dd favorite day. They have a room they call the gym, which they get to throw balls and run in.
It all depends on what you are looking for. I personally don't believe that preschools need academics. They need to learn through play.

Robin
robin4kids is offline  
#5 of 7 Old 02-23-2004, 05:48 PM
 
sweetbasil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Houston
Posts: 100
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Your description of your ds reminds me much of my own ds--good attention span, enjoys books and tasks, vivid imagination.

I was, at first, tempted to put him in a preschool with higher standards- more scheduled, etc., but after visiting several, I think he'd do well (and his social skills might even benefit) from a setting with more emphasis on playtime. The school we're hoping to get into (will know on Wed.!) has playtime, a playground 2x/day, music class once/week, reading time, computer time, all of which are things he already enjoys emmensely.

I wish you all the best as you search for the best place for your little guy...and let us know what you pick
sweetbasil is offline  
#6 of 7 Old 02-23-2004, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
elyen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: N. CA
Posts: 71
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks for all your responses so far. Keep them coming!

Tanibani, my son can enter a large parent co-op school (that sounds like yours) this summer, since I applied over a year ago. I loved the co-op idea, but we've actually ruled this option out, partly because I'm nursing ds #2, and mainly because I know much more about my son now than I did back when I applied! He is quite shy, doesn't like a large number of kids around him, and likes to learn from adults whom he trusts. There are 42 kids at this co-op, 3 teachers, and 5 parents who change each day. I don't think he'd be comfortable enough at this place to enjoy himself.

I'm leaning away from the academic programs because I think it's too early to introduce him to such a "classroom" environment. He'll get that in grades 1-12!! It seems too serious for a 3 year old!

We are seriously considering Montessori. My dh seems to really like it (visited his first Montessori this morning), and I like how they allow children to learn through discovering the various aspects of the objects and toys. I also like that Montessori IS a different experience from what we offer at home. I'm a little wary of how everything is a "job", but it's just semantics. Obviously, we're visiting a few different Montessoris to compare how "rigid" they are.

Once we find one we like (Montessori or not), I just hope that it will have space available!
elyen is offline  
#7 of 7 Old 02-25-2004, 08:52 PM
 
momsgotmilk4two's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Lake Forest, CA
Posts: 1,659
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I personally prefer preschools that are high on play, low on acedemics. Children are learning all of the time through play. They don't need to sit with a workbook in order to learn their abc's. Besides, I prefer to take care of the more acedemic stuff at home where we have more time and we're one on one, at least for the time being. The preschool we have chosen is NAEYC accredited. The room is huge and they have various stations set up around the room- a different art project everyday, playdough, housekeeping, blocks, dinosaurs, a large science area with different experiments set out along with their class pets, a book corner with beanbags to sit on, etc. The kids are basically free to do what they want. I've never seen a child sitting around looking bored, they are all engaged in something which I take as a good sign. They are also not running around crazy for the most part. They have a large yard with bikes, play equipment, and goats and a bunny (fenced in, of course and the goats and bunny are fenced separately from the children).

The facility is what initially sold me on the program, but the teachers have kept me there. They are wonderful, enjoy what they are doing, and can't wait to tell me what cute things my child did/said while I was gone:LOL You can't beat that!
momsgotmilk4two is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off