For many children preschool is the first interaction they will have with the formal education system. It will prepare your child for learning for the rest of their life. Bearing this in mind, it is clear that choosing an appropriate preschool is often seen as an extremely daunting task, made even more difficult by the number of options available. Parents can become overwhelmed. But we are here to help you explore and understand the different preschool philosophies before breaking down the six types of preschool programs available.
The Child And Parent Needs Balance
The needs of the child are the most important factor to keep in mind. However, this should be balanced with the needs of the parent or guardian. For example, a child may be well suited to a co-op school but parents may be unable to commit to this due to the responsibilities imposed on them. Furthermore, the way the child learns as well as their personality will be important considerations to take when selecting a preschool program.
The School’s Philosophy
Each school has its own philosophy, however, school philosophies fall into two broad categories. These are play based approach and academic based approach schools. The former focuses on learning through play and interaction with environments (for example, Waldorf schools) whereas the other focuses more on structured learning which usually includes subjects, drills and practice (such as High Scope schools). Research has shown that children benefit most from play based learning, however, the individual child’s needs must be considered as specific children may be better suited to academic based leaning.
Types Of Preschool Programs
There a number of different types of preschool programs available. This is a breakdown of the most popular options that are found widely throughout the world.
The Montessori preschool program gets its name from its developer, Maria Montessori, a physician and educator. It is a comprehensive program which uses a developmental approach to learning. This program places an emphasis on environments, creativity, imagination, and hands on learning. This does not mean that anyone can administer the Montessori program. Teachers are highly qualified as they are required to have an early childhood undergraduate or graduate degree and Montessori certification. Bearing all of this in mind, if the child is used to schedules or structured learning then this approach probably won’t be the best fit for them.
Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian writer, is the father of the Waldorf program. This program involves innovative, creative, and hands on learning in groups. It focuses on repeating teachings in a rhythmic manner. The environment which Waldorf schools strive to create is one of supportiveness and compassion which seeks to help create an eagerness for learning while not neglecting children’s innate abilities and talents. Teachers are required to be Waldorf certified.
The High Scope program has been carefully designed based on past and ongoing child developmental research and makes use of what is known as active participatory learning. What this means is that children are taught by allowing them to have hands-on experiences with their environments. The program makes use of repetitive or consistent daily routines and well-organized classrooms to support the hands-on education. This program is academically geared and makes use of planned experiences. The program incorporates fundamental subject such as math, reading and science.
Reggio Emilia is educational theory and practice rather than a method. These school programs developed in Italy in the mid-20th century and are used by many schools in the United states today. It focuses on exploration and places particular importance on the community as well as the expression of self. In these programs, children learn through art, projects and other activities which mirror their own ideas and interests. It can be described as child-led and open ended as there is no formal curriculum, training, or accreditation.
The Bank Street program is a developmental theory based on the educational philosophy of John Dewy. These schools focus on developing the children mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. Active learning is encouraged in these programs and children acquire knowledge about the world through experience. It can be said to be child led as the students set the learning pace, with the teachers merely acting as guides or facilitators. This program teaches children by making use of hands on activities such as puzzles, shape block play, building blocks, clay manipulation, and dramatic play.
Parent co-ops are for parents who wish to be more involved in their child’s school experience compared to other programs. It can be described as a mixture of home-schooling and traditional preschools where parents are actively involved with their children on a day to day basis but work with the school in this involvement. The responsibilities on parents at co-op schools are great. Parents are involved in the operation of the school and also allow parents to learn with their children in nurturing environments. These schools focus on conflict resolution and cooperation.
At Parkland Children’s Academy we are here to help you make the best selection for your child. Give us a call or schedule a time to come and see our school before you settle on, what could be a pivotal decision in your child’s future.