Preschool…once a privilege to a few kids is now commonplace for most. Kids that enter kindergarten without any preschool experience are the minority these days. Nursery school, as it was once called, was geared primarily toward affording children opportunities to play and build social skills. Preschools today may mention play and building social skills in their description but more often stress their academic structure and extracurricular offerings such as foreign language exposure and computer skill training. What?!?! We need to get back to the basics people! What 3-5 year old kids need is exactly what our ancestors found to be most important: PLAY! Because we know that the best way for kids this age to learn is through trial and error, hands on exploration and free play, we must find preschools that stress these things and not other developmentally inappropriate skills. A wise woman once said, “Preschool is not boot camp for kindergarten.”
I couldn’t agree more! Why are we expecting 3 and 4 year olds to sit for 30 minutes of tabletop structured writing activities? Developmentally they shouldn’t be able to do this, so why are we expecting it from them? There is a lot to be said in trusting a child’s natural developmental trajectory. How about we don’t become overly excited when standards (set too high for their tender age) aren’t met in preschool and instead expect those skills when they are developmentally appropriate?
My son is blessed to attend a preschool that stresses the most important things for the preschool years: allowing children opportunities to grow in their independence, develop a strong sense of self, and be able to use their creativity in working and learning as healthy, thinking individuals. His school offers opportunities for true and creative play. Reading this might worry some parents because no where in this school’s mission statement is there mention of learning to write his name, label shapes or count to 20. Funny thing is, he has learned all of that and SO much more. But the material is presented in a way that is fun, interesting and memorable to him; no worksheets, flashcards or repetitive writing tasks here. He is engaged through multi-sensory activities that afford him age appropriate access to learning. Absolute perfection in the preschool world!!
The fabulous school I am referring to is Child’s Play, Inc. Miss Melanie, Miss Liz and Miss Aimee are the extraordinary teachers at this school that I am forever thankful for. Below are snapshots of what their school days look like. I felt the learning that takes place at Child’s Play is much better expressed through Miss Melanie’s talented photography (shared on her Facebook page) than any typed checklist I could provide. Take a look, a close look at what and how the children are learning through the fabulous experiences they are engaged in. Keep these photos in mind as you decide, visit and attend prospective preschools with your little one. Give childhood (and preschool-hood) back to our kids. These years should be when they develop their love for learning, not when we are training them to be soldiers!
If you need something more to read, this article includes a GREAT checklist for parents when exploring options and visiting preschools. Good luck in your search and may you also be as fortunate as I in finding a preschool as perfect as Child’s Play!