If you are like most parents you probably looked at a half-dozen pre-schools and talked to a dozen friends before you found a school that you felt comfortable with. One, you might have thought, that finally suited your needs. That’s great. It is very important to be aware of what is available in the community. This is the way we make educated decisions. In this way, informed people select everything from schools to cars to doctors. But, let me ask, when you were looking at different pre-schools did you consider whether the school suits the needs of your child?
Often in our haste to find care for our child we look not much further than the facilities and the schedule of hours that are available. We sometimes fail to look more in depth into
the learning program that the pre-school or day care has to offer. This can be unfortunate where the needs of the child are concerned. You may have seen a program that at the same time has all the three or four year olds doing the same paperwork at the same table. The children may well be discouraged from touching, and thus exploring, the surroundings in the classroom. But is this what is best for your child’s development?
Most recent research suggests that a pre-school program that meets the developmental
needs of your child will include some of the following: First, the activities should be developmentally, or age, appropriate. Children learn through developing concepts. Therefore, the younger the child the simpler the concept should be that an activity teaches.
Next, the activities that make up the classroom environment should be composed mainly
of manipulatives. These are activities children can work with their hands. Children, as adults, learn through experience and through the use of their senses. By allowing them the opportunity to use and refine their senses a greater understanding of the concept is gained.
A sense of order and organization in the classroom is another recommendation. This provides a consistent environment, one in which your child will learn to trust that his surroundings will be stable from one day to the next. It is not suggested by the word order that all the children should be sitting at a table at once waiting on the teacher to tell them what to do. However, it does mean that the classroom environment is consistent from one day to the next. That is, the rules are regularly reinforced and the expectations are the same. There is nothing so comforting for a child (or adult) as a stable environment.
Finally, there should be activities that foster physical and social development as well
as mental development. In short, the program should focus on developing the “whole child.” Anything less would be unfair to the needs of your child.
A last suggestion, if you have questions about whether a program is right for your child try taking him or her along with you when you visit. I bet you will be able to tell a lot about
the quality and desirability of the program by the way your child reacts to the classroom.