Finding the right preschool for your child can be a challenge. With a variety of different options to choose from, parents can easily become overwhelmed when trying to decide which type of program would be the most suitable for their child.
There are essentially four education models that preschools use, but do keep in mind that different schools sometimes incorporate some unique elements into the design of their curriculum. Because of this, it is essential that you take the time to thoroughly investigate each preschool that you are considering sending your child to so that you will have a clear understanding of the school’s philosophy and style of teaching.
Preschool Education Models
The “Developmentally Appropriate” Model focuses on the individual needs of each child. It is based on children’s ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, abilities, and skill levels. The overall experience that each child has in a preschool that follows this philosophy is a culmination of his or her interactions with other children that may have different or special needs. Teachers in these schools must ensure that each child receives the attention that he or she needs, while also maintaining a sense of unity throughout the classroom.
The High Scope Model places an emphasis on sorting and classification, and the proper use of space and time. A main teaching emphasis is on building individual skills, so activities are usually focused on encouraging children to play games that will help them to learn colors, sizes, or shapes. Emotional and social development is not emphasized in this type of learning environment, so if this is important to you, another type of preschool might be a better choice.
Montessori schools can be found that are built around a variety of different concepts. When looking at these types of schools, you should engage the school’s director in a face to face conversation so that you can ask questions about the school’s overall teaching philosophy. This will also allow you to get a feel for the school’s environment. In these schools, children are thought of as being independent learners; so of course, individual independence is highly stressed in these preschools.
The Reggio Emilia Model stresses the interaction between teachers and children. Teachers in these schools take an active interest in listening and talking to the children they teach, and they emphasize student exploration when it comes to learning. Artistic development is considered to be very important in these schools, so children are encouraged to engage in projects that are sparked by an interest they have.
Things to Look For
Aside from trying to find a preschool that will provide your child with the type of learning environment and teaching philosophy that you are comfortable with, you also need to carefully examine the school’s director, the teachers, and the classrooms in order to be able to make the best possible decision.
When children are preschool age, the most important thing to look for is the amount of direct interaction your child will have with his or her teacher. This type of communication is far more important to children of this age than having computer access or too much time spent alone.
By Cyndra Neal