Preschool Programs: Which One Is Best For Your Child?
As parents searching for preschool programs for their young children, you probably hear a lot of different teaching philosophies thrown around. There are Montessori preschools, Waldorf preschools, Reggio Emilia preschools, religious preschools, play-based preschools and the list goes on and on.
You’ll hear that some schools are best for independent learners, while others are better for highly social children or perhaps that one type better prepares students for the structure of elementary school. In the end, there is really only one factor that matters when you select a preschool and just one question that you need to ask yourself as you visit all of these preschools.
Will my child be happy here?
That’s it. That’s the secret to success with preschool programs. If you take a tour of the facility and it looks like a place where your child will be safe, happy and secure, put it on your shortlist.
If the staff seems caring and competent, and the preschool is clean and well-organized and filled with children that generally seem content, you’ve probably found a good option.
Academics are important, of course, but if a child is unhappy or feels unwelcome at school, how easy will it be for them to learn?
Obviously, every day of our lives is not filled with sunshine and rainbows, and we all have bad days from time to time. For preschool-age children, however, it’s really not that hard to keep them happy and secure and engaged with their learning. They simply need interesting activities and teachers that truly care about them.
While our main focus is making sure that every student is safe, secure and content, we certainly do plan a thoughtful curriculum that enhances learning and discovery. We incorporate teachings from many respected educational philosophers, including Montessori, Piaget and Erickson, to name a few.
We also use a STEAM-based curriculum that includes lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. Additionally, we support these activities as well as language development through the use of carefully chosen literature.
Often, preschool programs that utilize the teachings of several different philosophies better meet the needs of all of their students. There just isn’t a one-size-fits-all educational method. If we need children to become curious, lifelong learners that are capable of working independently and as part of a team, it’s crucial that their curriculum and school experience fosters these needs.
This is why we’ve taken elements from many different teaching styles. For instance, from the Montessori style, we can create activities that foster independence and teach practical skills. Through studying the philosophy of Piaget, we gain a better understanding of intellectual development and how to nurture and facilitate student learning at every age and stage.
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We also believe that unstructured free play is critical during the preschool years. Children need to be able to choose play activities on their own and interact with other students in order to develop social skills, but free play also helps children become more creative thinkers and better decision makers.
At Precious Moments, we provide students with many options for free play, both indoors and outdoors in our large playground area. Free play also allows children to expend some energy, which is crucial for preschool-aged children.
The Daily Schedule
With our 2 and 3-year-olds, you will notice that the schedule is quite different from that of older children. These younger learners need their day divided up into smaller chunks of time to accommodate their shorter attention spans. We also assign homework to our older students, and encourage them to turn it in on time, building a sense of responsibility that will serve them well as they head toward elementary school.
Each day begins with a healthy breakfast, and you can check out our monthly breakfast menu here and our monthly lunch menu here. We provide nutritious, well-balanced and kid-friendly meals with mostly organic ingredients.
After breakfast and clean-up, students engage in group circle time. The younger children have a longer circle time and then break out into small-group activities and learning centers. The older children will have a short circle time and then begin working at their tables, engaging in large group activities and enjoying both indoor and outdoor workshops.
From there, we have playground time followed by lunch and naptime. Preschoolers need a significant amount of sleep, and most of our students enjoy a nice long rest after lunch. For those that don’t nap or take a shorter nap, they can engage in quiet activities such as reading or drawing.
After naptime, we enjoy a quick snack. The older children then will engage in a math project and a science or art project, while the younger students will have an additional large group circle time followed by more outdoor play. Then we offer learning centers and small-group activities for the younger children. At the end of the day, we all pitch in to clean up the classrooms, enjoy some free play and then get prepared for pick-up time.
Of course, sometimes we go off-schedule and enjoy something unique. For instance, the children enjoy special programs such as reptile shows, bird shows, puppet shows or the always-popular African-American drum show. We also plan special parties to commemorate events such as Diwali, Cinco de Mayo, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
At the end of each school year, we host a graduation party to celebrate the end of a successful year. We also have special events such as Science Fairs and our unique Henna Party, where the students get to learn the science of Henna, how it is made and how it is applied.
If you would like to learn more about our preschool programs, feel free to call us at any time to ask questions or book a tour. You also can select the green Book a Tour tab on our homepage and fill out our quick form.