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Entries in Preschool (7)

Saturday
May302015

Love Letter to Our Co-Op Preschool

 

Last week, I said good-bye to a place that has meant so much to me as a parent. After four years at Little Hands (what I affectionately call a pre-preschool), we had our last class and closed the child-proof gate on a very important part of our lives.

After hearing raves from moms at our playgroup, Nic and I started our first class at Little Hands when he was 18 months old. I thought it would be a good way to get us out of the house and for me to meet some new mom friends. Little did I know that this place, and the AMAZING teachers, would be my parenting inspiration through toddlerhood and probably for the rest of my life.

I often tell people that I don’t know what I would have done without the parent education that is a major part of the Little Hands program. When we started there, I had relatively little need for discipline, but as Nic approached two, and then three, that changed big time. At Little Hands, I was able to watch the teachers, emulate their examples and ask them for advice. They helped me sort through the internet sea of discipline philosophies to find something that seemed kind, fair and effective (Positive Discipline!).

Little Hands also helped me build the community that I wanted so badly. Having not grown up around here, I missed running into people while out and about. My web of connections has grown so much through all of the parent involvement at Little Hands. Nowadays, we rarely leave the house without running into someone we know.

Nic aged out of Little Hands years ago and Z will officially be too old for next fall—kids must be under 36 months by September 1. I’m excited for Z to start at the wonderful Montessori where Nic has been for the past two years, but I’ll miss seeing him in the classroom on a regular basis and watching him learn and grown among his peers. I’ll also really miss the regular child development curriculum that has been so vital to my development as a parent.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of the boys’ teachers individually. They have each made such a major contribution to their lives that I’d be remiss not to tell them one more time.

Teacher Carol: You pour your heart and soul into Little Hands. You do such an amazing job with kids in parents in class, but it’s your level of commitment to the school and everything that it stands for that constantly astounds me.

Teacher Erika: You are my parenting idol. The way you can see a conflict coming and step in to resolve it is unparalleled. You have a keen eye that can really see what is going on with kids, and your input has been invaluable to me through the years. I feel lucky to have had you in my life at my toughest parenting moments (so far!).

Teacher Lalaine: Your connection with Z has been so sweet and true and it’s really helped him cope with his separation anxiety. You have been his safe place this year and that means so much to both of us.

I feel so lucky to have found such a wonderful parenting resource so early on. I know that Little Hands has helped me lay a foundation for parenting that will serve me and my family for decades to come. Thank you Little Hands for all of the love and learning!  

Z "graduating" from Little Hands with Teacher Lalaine.

 

Wednesday
Aug012012

Preschool Prep

 

Reese starts preschool next month. Mostly I'm excited for her because I know she's ready. What I wasn't expecting is the fact that I'm not. I realized this yesterday when I dropped her off at her very first preschool summer camp. It's three hours, two days a week for two weeks. We did a lot of prepping to help make the transition easy.

  • Went to the library and hecked out a book about preschool - Maisy Goes to Preschool
  • We talked about how "Reese is going to preschool and Mommy is going to give Reese a hug and say bye-bye and Reese gets to stay and play. Then Mommy will come back to get Reese." She repeated this scenario over and over and seemed to get it. 
  • We showed up early so that she could get used to the new space. 
  • A really quick good-bye. I could see she was going to be fine and I didn't want her to sense my anxiety. 

As I turned and walked out of the room my eyes swelled with tears. How is my two year old ok with this and I'm not?! A thought quickly floated through my head: Does she really need preschool? Maybe I'll just keep her home with me forever. Ok, I'm being ridiculous.  

I know she is ready so I just keep reminding myself of this. For now I am just looking forward to when I can drop her off confidently and without tears.

 

UPDATE: When I picked Reese up her teacher told me that she had cried for a few min after I left but only for a few min. She was busy playing at a water table when I arrived and ran into my arms when she saw me. It was really sweet.

Friday
Jun082012

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Preschool

 

I’ve been writing a lot about preschools – applying to preschools and different preschool philosophies. Education expert Claire Haas of Kiddie Academy, has shared a list of questions to ask when choosing a preschool, and I wanted to share with you. 

We know that picking the perfect preschool will not guarantee that our child is later accepted to Harvard. Right?! However, the right choice can determine if your child is ready for kindergarten and elementary school. 

Here's a Handy Checklist:

  • Does the preschool program provide curriculum-based education and enrichment activities? Developmentally-appropriate academic programs prepare children to be lifelong learners.
  • How does the facility help to prepare your child to meet state standards?
  • Evaluate the arts program - are the projects child-driven?  Are students given materials with freedom to be creative in constructing the end result, thus expressing themselves through art?
  • Review the physical fitness plan - Does the center provide activities that focus on health and fitness?
  • How is technology integrated into the lessons?  Today's best preschools offer multiple ways to utilize computers and technology to enhance learning experiences.
  • Does the center offer your child a variety of ways to interact with other children throughout the day? By exposing your child to a range of participation formats—independent, small group and large group—your child becomes a more well-rounded individual, better prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

 

If you're choosing between several options, take note of how each preschool handles each of these crucial topics.  Once you've gathered all the data, you'll have what you need to make an informed decision that's right for your family.

For more education and parenting tips, visit the Kiddie Academy Family blog.

Thursday
May242012

A Glimpse into Different Preschool Philosophies

 

Montessori. Waldorf. Reggio Emilia. Cooperative. Play-based. I had no idea there were so many types/approaches for preschool learning. And these are just a handful. I’m still trying to digest what each of these means. 

Scholastic.com, greatschools.org and parentingsquad.com all have some great info on these different types of preschools. I’ve pulled information directly from these sites to provide a brief overview of some of the more common types of preschools.

Do you have any experience with any of these programs?

Montessori (as described by greatschools.org):

The underlying idea of Montessori is that children are individual learners with teachers as guides. Children participate in a variety of hands-on-activities. Play materials are designed for specific purposes, which guide the child’s playtime. Montessori fosters personal responsibility by encouraging children to take care of their own personal needs and belongings, such as preparing their own snacks and cleaning up their toys. A wide range of ages may learn together in one classroom, and children are encouraged to help each other learn.

Who It’s For (as described by Scholastic.com):

Since students have the freedom to do tasks at their own speed, and to choose their own projects and playthings, Montessori schools typically are considered a great choice for special needs and gifted children. 

Waldorf (as described by greatschools.org):

The underlying principle of the Waldorf program is dependable routine. The daily and weekly schedule follows a consistent rhythm, and teachers often remain with the same group of students for up to eight years, allowing them to form a trusting relationship. The atmosphere is home-like, with all-natural furnishings and playthings and a group-oriented curriculum. Waldorf emphasizes creative learning, such as play-acting, story readings, singing, and cooking. The goal of this system is to develop the child emotionally and physically as well as intellectually.

Who It’s For (as described by Scholastic.com):

Almost any child will flourish within a Waldorf preschool, but the programs are especially well-suited for children who thrive on repetition.

Reggio Emilia (as described by greatschools.org):

The curriculum consists of projects that reflect the interests of the students. Teachers observe the spontaneous curiosity of their students, and then guide them to create projects that reflect their pursuits. Children are expected to learn through mistakes rather than correction, as they are considered equal learners. Their play and projects are documented in photographs and records of their own words, which allows teachers and parents to follow each student's progress and helps children see their actions as meaningful.

Who It’s For (as described by Scholastic.com):

Reggio Emilia schools are recommended for children who tend to have long-term interests and hobbies, and who are comfortable working both independently and with others.

Cooperative (as described by scholastic.com and greatschool.org):

According to scholastic.com: In cooperative preschools, parents are involved with teaching and supervision. These preschools can draw on any of the major educational philosophies, or a combination of them. 

According to greatshools.com: It’s distinguishing characteristic is that parents take on significant roles at the school Participating parents take turns to fulfill various duties, such as school upkeep or preparing snacks. A professional teacher is usually hired, but may be assisted by parents in the classroom. This can be a less expensive alternative, as heavy parental involvement minimizes extra costs.

Who It’s For (as described by scholastic.com):

This depends on the educational philosophy that’s being followed at the cooperative preschool – but do make sure that you’re prepared, as a parent, for the level of involvement this preschool may require.

Play Based (as described by parentingsquad.com)

Play based preschools are considered to be the most popular. The philosophy behind these types of preschools is that young children learn best through play-based activities. Most play based programs offer structured activities as well as non-structured play times. Teachers help to facilitate learning through play and interaction with other children. Gaining social skills is also a focus of these programs. Play based advocates believe that the child’s development, in this environment helps, helps the child to be ready for primary school.

BabyCenter provides a great article describing top preschool programs and how they differ. Now that I’ve started my research I’m not any closer to figuring out which preschool will be best suited for my soon-to-be preschooler. Any tips/suggestions based on your own research and experience would be greatly appreciated. Alternatively, does it really matter? 

Wednesday
Apr042012

Podcast #46: Sugar High (or Low)

 

Is sugar the enemy? Or is it BPA? Or maybe it's preschool applications or transitioning to a big-boy-bed? This week, the MommyBetas discuss how hard it is to make decisions for our kids.

Listen to the podcast here.

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