Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool
posted at 2/14/2013 7:22 PM EST
KAM, can you strongly encourage/request that the teachers write a "Today We..." note every single freakin' day and post it on the parent board? they can't write daily notes for each child in preschool (although given your son's class has 2 teachers and only 12 kids, I actually think they COULD do this - we have 2 teachers and 8 kids so this would only be an increase of 2 notes per teacher, and they do them during naptime, so.... but as a start, if they wrote out a
"Today We took a walk to the park and saw our friend the black squirrel plus 2 grey squirrels! When we came back we built a volcano out of whatever it is - make sure you check it out in our art area! Tomorrow we're going to set it off and see the lava come out. During circle time we read "Volcanoes everywhere" and King Bidgood's in the Bathtub and Won't Get Out - and talked about the letter B - some of us even have names that start with B!
Have a great evening, we'll see you tomorrow.
WHAT a difference it would make on your car ride home, or at dinner time, or during bath and bedtime routine, as you talked about the volcano, what part he built, what color he thinks the lava will be, you can find out how much he knows about volcanos, and what he liked best about the book. If they balk at wasting paper, they can have a few pages laminated and use overhead projecter pens to write a new one every day.
Actually, curriculum and preschoolers DO go hand in hand, but NOT the way you might think of it - it's not a dumbed down kindergarten or 1st grade. Curriculum is what we do all day, and HOW we do it. We focus on gross and fine motor skills, language, reading and writing, social/emotional development as part of our curriculum, so that's why your school read the book they did at circle, which led up to the activity they did that day and the whole week.... the pirates is an expression of their curriculum - they are using fine motor skills, pre-writing (how to hold a pen, crayon and eventually pencil is critical before you can think about using those tools to make a letter or number) they are using critical thinking skills, they are socializing as they discuss each other's maps and talk about why they put what they did. Outside, if their teacher creates an obstacle course and then makes a map to follow during outside time, they will learn to follow instructions and follow rules.
We have pushed education down so much that we expect 4 yr olds to be writing their names, reading, and unfortunately it's possible that many children can, but many children (and esp. boys although not always boys) cannot do this or aren't interested yet, and get so much pressure to do so that they get frustrated, stressed, and start thinking of themselves as not smart. When you are pretending in dramatic play and you are the waiter, taking an order from the customers, and "writing" stuff (scribbles) on the paper, then bringing over the "food" (which could be pretend plastic food or some legos that stand in for those items or just plates), and remembering what that person ordered, you are learning social skills, memory, that writing is important and something they CAN do, they are taking turns, making and following rules, negotiating and being part of a whole vs. just being their own boss. All critical!
I would lean towards a program that has more open ended play than sitting down at structured time, because you see lots of "this is how you make a cat, do it this way" art in those latter programs, which doesn't teach anything and just leaves kids at tables too much.
And make sure they go OUTSIDE every freakin' day! Your kids won't get recess once they hit elementary school, so get them outside now.
Spend time observing - pick out a child who seems to be like your child (boisterous, quiet, shy, helplful, into everything, reserved, whatever) and see if that child seems to do well at the school - does the teacher seem to get along with that child and the others, or does she pick at a few kids who can't seem to do anything right? Do the kids seem to get along (for the most part, there will be squabbles, there should be), can they solve their problems themselves, and if not how does a teacher fix it? by sending them all away from the activity or does she sit and brainstorm and offer solutions and see if they can learn something from the disagreement/problem?
is it a happy sound of busy-ness or is it crazy, shrieking freakin' NOISY in the room?