11 March 2011

The Hunt

I have been feeling the pressure.

There has been an avalanche of information regarding the education of our preschooler.

I have been bombarded with hype from chain preschools that claim they can teach our three year old to read. There have been rumors of waiting lists and interviews to get into the "best" schools. Advertisements have been selling us on the necessity of outfitting our three year old in a uniform and delivering him to a rigorous academic preschool to give him a leg up on the competition.

I disagree with most of the preschool claims and advertisements that I have encountered. I have issues with the drill and kill with worksheets philosophy. Sure, it's great to know letters and sounds and to read and write, but I can teach emergent literature one-on-one with my child at home. Then, there is the other end of the preschool spectrum, which I can't say is much more than child care.

So, I was left to trust my own instincts when choosing the right preschool for Blake.

I boldly tackled the preschool search over the last few weeks. Blake and I visited seven different preschools in our area. Maybe that is a little extreme, but early childhood education is my field, and I wanted to be thorough. It was a completely different ball game when I was searching for the philosophy and curriculum that best met my child's needs compared to when I was searching for a teaching position. And I wanted to be sure that I knew all of our options before Troy and I made a decision.

I was shocked at the range of quality that I found. I'm still convinced that no preschool is as great as where I did my student teaching in Michigan. But, in the end, Troy and I felt at peace with choosing a school that best met the philosophy I have been taught and wholeheartedly agree with.

I was surprised at how much it mattered to me that we chose a Reggio-Emilia based philosophy. The philosophy is basically that children learn through hands on activities where social and emotional development are the focus. As a result of the self esteem they build through competent play, they excel academically. Man oh man do I agree with that! Preschool should be about enrichment, not about competition.

Don't even get me started on those cute little art projects that have to look exactly like the teacher's. I personally feel very strongly that art and science should be about the process, not the end result. I immediately wrote off any school that had those cutesy carbon copy art projects on display.

I'm not saying that this is the philosophy for everyone, nor does the preschool you choose even come close to determining your child's success in later grades (or going to preschool at all for that matter). I think everyone makes the best choice in their own situation, and our decision feels just right for our cautious and hesitant three year old who needs a little social boost.

I feel such a sense of relief that the hunt is over. We secured one of the last three two-mornings-a-week slots at our preschool of choice for the fall. He's in!


5 comments:

  1. I am glad you found a preschool for you guys. It is a hard choice. I am not pleased with schools down here and didn't have many options due to our fincial situation :) Another concern for sending Lucy to kindergarten next year. But---I agree, it is your choice. I love that about parenting you can make up the desicion for you family and what works good for you. It is hard to know what is best for each child and good thing they aren't all the same (the child). I kinda get a hard time from others about sending Lucy to preschool, things like it is your last year with her..don't you want to spend time with her? Is she to much for you to handle you have to send her to school?? Well good thing it is our desicion and we can also pray about and know what we feel is the right thing to do. Sorry this turned into a long comment. I feel like this past semester we just did the hunt and it was hard work and it can be stressful knowing what is best for the whole family!

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  2. i'm glad you found a preschool. we also felt the pressure last year... geesh. i finally just decided that 3 year old preschool is for FUN and to help them socialize... not to teach them to read and count. ha... they are three for goodness sakes!!! anyway-- I DO end up driving Quinn a little far for preschool, just just because I found a teacher that I love. she is super sweet. i feel like i chose quinn's preschool based on the teacher alone. (while she does have a great curriculum). I just wanted someone NICE, so that quinn would love her and want to go. and it worked :)
    so good job finding a great preschool for blake.. i'm sure he'll love it!!! you are such a good mom to care so much-- it says a lot about you!!

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  3. Yay, thank goodness the stress is over!

    I still have fond memories of my pre-school in Michigan (a monessori (sp?)) and the ways that they taught us through play.

    I don't think it's over the top at all that you went looking at that many schools. This is the start of his formal education years!

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  4. So glad you found a good one. I'm definiely jealous of the expertise you are armed with to make a good choice. I sure wish we could have a do-over for the one we picked. Oh well. Time marches on. Can't believe little Blake is soon to be a preschooler!!!

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  5. Lindsey this is really Kim Chapin. For some reason it has chosen to use my foundation account and director's name. Not sure you are aware but there is an Emilio...program right here in GR. It is actually a charter sponsored under GRPS, but located at Aquinas. People move into GR just so their kids can attend. Mostly those with special needs. It was started by someone from Europe who actually was tutored under the direct leadership.Aquinas education students work in the program. Oh I wish it was in place when I was seeking my certification 16 years ago. Think you made a great decision. I for one am sick of the direct teaching/time on task attitude of administration these days forgetting that research does not support this thought. They are all about test scores. Have fun Blake!!!!

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