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What to ask when looking at Preschool

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    DS is 2.5 years and not a big talker compared to some of his classmates. At christmas time, DH started to ask DS "Was <classmate> nice or naughty?" and most of the time, DS would say "Nice" but interestingly, there were 2 kids in particular that usually were "naughty" so we would ask "why?" and get interesting stories like they pushed him or someone else. It does seem easier to find out what the other kids did than what he did... ah well.

    He came home one day, singing "slippery fish, slippery fish, swimming in the water.." and so we asked his teacher about the song - now, we got hooked on it. And he loved the wiggles for a while (to the point that he would go crazy at home if he heard it - luckily, he is not as hooked to it as he was - now, he asks for hush little baby and lucy in the sky with diamonds).

    Medford, I know what you mean by being lured by flashy bells and whistles... we were looking at his current one and another daycare last year as our top two choices - the other one was definitely much flashier - if we were to go by the facilities alone, we would be at the other daycare. We still talk about some of the bells and whistles that other place has. We ended up picking the one he is at now for a few reasons - location, availability and the contact with the staff we had during the tours.

    And I have come to realize that for us, the staff matters a lot more than the flashy stuff because we get along great with our director and love the teachers - and DS is blossoming there. And even in the infant rooms, where DD is now, it seems like they work hard on skills like sitting, playtime on the mats, reading (they have no swings, no exersaucers there and gated off the cribs so that the crawlers can not go into that area and shake the cribs like DS used to do at his old daycare). We also were determined to have just one daycare to deal with until kindergarten for the two kids (his current daycare goes up to private kindergarten) to make pick up and drop off less stressful and try to cut down as much as we can the time either or both kids would have to be in the car. This way too, if one of us is running late, the other parent can do the pickup and only have to go to one center.



  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    When you have 2 children, your life will be more complicated as you meet the needs of a 21/2 yr old and a newborn.  As a director, I love to have siblings at the center, because it gives them time to be together during the day - even if it's just in the car on the way to/from, but we also have older siblings go visit their baby siblings if they want to, and sometimes they do.  So it helps family continuity, and it's so MUCH EASIER for one drop off than 2.  You will need to bring your big one to the baby's center, drop the baby off, collect your older one (who will have become involved in something or other) and then take big girl to school.  Or take baby to the big girl's school, which is easy when the baby is in a bucket, but not when baby squirms to get down and play in DD's classroom.


    trust me, from the parents whose older children have moved on and left baby at our center (we don't have a preschool so you have to do this if you don't move both from our center), they do love getting their baby into their older kids' new center when they can.  You won't have that option.


    can you hold off one year, keep your big girl at this center, and then the NEXT year once you know better how having 2 will change your world, make a decision about moving to that school? 

  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    CT - thanks for the insight!  I was definitely envisioning a similar challenging drop off / pick up scenario.  I had thought about what you mentioned, about waiting another year and then moving DD for the 4 year old year potentially.  I balked at that a little because then it would only be 1 year in the new place before (presumably) going to public K.

    I am going to observe at our center in the preschool / pre-K rooms pretty soon before I make a final decision, but I did talk to our director and am feeling better about it.  One thing I am worried about is when they say things like, "oh, they'll work on recognizing letters and their name and et cetera..."  There is no way to say this without sounding braggy, but DD already knows all the uppercase letters and most of the lowercase, and she recognizes her name and a few other sight words.  So I'm apprehensive about a lot of time "preparing for kindergarten" and working on "skills".  On the other hand, it's a small class and I really like the (current!) teachers in the rooms, so I'm hopeful we can make it fun for her.

    cwag - that's really good advice!  I *think* the only real flashy thing I was taken in by was that the school has a library.  But all the awesomeness I was seeing from the teachers and the activities... I think I may have been influenced by the activities I was seeing in the K and 2nd grade classes.  I work in math education, and in the 2nd grade class they were talking about Celsius and Fahrenheit, and the discussion was really well facilitated.  I'm having a hard time putting aside those things (considering we're not prepared to shell out for private school all the way through!)

  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    Med - maybe you can ask how the teachers handle children who are at different levels of preparation. For instance, DS was the oldest child in his room for a few months (we had asked not to move him to the next room until the new baby has been home for a few months to limit the amount of changes for him) - and there was one other boy who was a few weeks younger then him then a gap of a few months in age with the rest of the class (he was in the 18-24 month room). What the teachers did was to change the materials to incorporate the older children with the younger children so even if the topics were familiar, they modified it so it was not the same things the older kids did already and DS was not bored in the class since they were able to mix in new materials for the same topics he had done before.


  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    Medford, remember that in the preschool years a MAJOR goal should still be social/emotional skills: sharing, taking turns, listening to others, being able to tell a story without hogging the entire circle time, understanding the give and take of games, etc. And also motor skills - climbing, jumping, hopping, running, marching, tiptoeing, galloping "like a horse" and finally skipping. 


    So, yes, you want your daughter to be cognitively challenged but if they do a play based philosophy where the classroom is set up in interest areas: block area, writing center, manipulatives, art center, dramatic play (which if they change every month to reflect a them is even more interesting), and science area - then your child should be able to use each one at her skill level while still learning from others and teaching others as they interact.  So instead of lots of "skill and drill" in preschool I'd prefer to see markers and paper in the dramatic play area so the kids can "take an order" at the restaurant, write down the cat's "symptoms" at the vet, etc.  And having writing stuff in the big block area allows you to mark your buildings with s sign saying 'castle' or 'keep out'.  The idea is that children get the idea that writing and language are all around them, not isolated to just "learning to read and write time" - and many/most children won't be really reading by the time they enter kindergarten but they will have a good idea of the letters, numbers, recognize some words, etc.  So if your daughter is able to do that you still want to make sure she is able to work on her social skills - sharing, taking turns, being a good friend but still sticking up for herself and her needs and wants. 


    It's HARD to take turns looking through the magnifying glass at the leaves, but it's necessary to begin to learn and master this because those kids who don't have those skills in elementary school won't be as fun friends as those who do have them.  Kids don't want to spend time with brats.  And elem. school teachers have so much to cram into kids that they don't have the time to really do the social/emotional negotiating that good preschool teachers should spend time on. 

    Two kids wanting to use the same (and last) triangular block in different ways on the structure they are building may start out with a grabbing fight, but should end with teachers getting down to their level and giving each child time to say their piece, then they should be able to begin to solve the problem together.  SO MUCH WORK as a preschool teacher, I can tell you that!  But it's worth it when you here one of your kids say "I have an idea!  Let's put it here at the beginning, then  move it over here after that."  OR "Oh, your idea is better, let's do it that way, I like that."

    So I guess what I'm saying is if she already knows letters, etc. she shouldn't be bored at your childcare center (even without the glitz) because there are so many other skills for her to learn.  BUT if they spend a lot of time sitting in chairs, doing skill and drill (flashcards, what letter is this, everyone?) or sitting at circle showing shapes and repeating back (ugh, so boring, there are a zillion better ways to learn your shapes) then she might be bored bec. she knows all that stuff.  Really observing - take 2 hours and sit in a corner out of the way - will help you know what goes on.  I'd say go in between 9 and 12pm - what are they learning at morning snack, circle time, project time, and then out at the playground?  What are the qualities of the discussions the children are having with the teachers and with the other children?  are the teachers leading them forward in their learning? 

  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    You can tell a LOT about a mom based on whether they think the monkey chomping alligator song is funny, or appallingly violent and inappropriate.  I recommend it as a mom sanity litmus test of who you want to hang around with, and whose kids you want your kids hanging around with.

  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    CT - I agree with you completely, although I probably didn't express it well.  My exact concern with our current center is that they will focus on "school skills", like knowing shapes and letters and things.  And that is what I do NOT want.  I think it's understandable because they get pushed to have kids "ready for kindergarten" - even DD's current toddler teacher told me she gets a lot of questions about how she's teaching these supposed skills.  And when I talked to the director, her first instinct was to emphasize that stuff, so I would assume that's the kind of push they usually get from parents.

    So my exact concern is that they'll be doing that kind of stuff instead of playing / social / gross motor, which is the stuff I really want her to be able to have time for!  The stuff I saw at the other preschool is pretty much exactly what you described as your ideal!

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from KAM2007. Show KAM2007's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    CT-you must have most parents drooling over your center! your excitment and explanation of everything has me contemplating moving back to DC so my kids can go to your center!

  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    Thanks! And we do have much less snow than you do, but the heat and humidity from June to the end of September takes all the pep out of my step.

  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from Trouble30. Show Trouble30's posts

    Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool

    Medford, our DDs found very similar in some ways.  My DD also knows the whole alphabet, can spell some words, numbers up to 20, understands counting, has great pronounciation, etc.  DH was all, "what will she learn?"  But I'm totally with CT-DC that, for me, it's less about book learning and more about social learning.  Sitting quietly during story time, sharing (even though she has a sibling she has yet to master that concept) and things like that.  She is SUPER outgoing and needs to learn to tone it down a bit!

    We visited one of the 2 in-town choices yesterday and we thought it was great!  The teachers were so warm! There was a daily schedule (with bathroom breaks spelled out :) ) and the kids seemed really sweet and happy.  If the second school seems as great as the first we're going to have a tough decision on our hands!!