Re: What to ask when looking at Preschool
posted at 2/24/2013 9:45 AM EST
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?