Thursday, August 21, 2008

What is "good " care for preschoolers?

I am somewhat leery of posting this. I mean, what if the things I post , and the things I believe in, don't really mesh with what I do every day. Oh well.. I just finished an amazing book about play. How kids learn through play. I mean, I say it all the time. I know what it means and sometimes all I can muster in how to explain it is--well, they play and we interact with them using language extenders like" which is longer", "Pass me the BLUE ball" and lots of open ended questions . This book not only made me want to be like "Miss Mary" but gave me good solid truths about what makes a great place for a child that will help them excel not only physically and developmentally but academically as well ... all through play. So, what makes a good place and how am I stacking up? Number one you cannot choose a place just by their name or affiliation. For example, just because a facility has "preschool " in it's name does not make it a better place to be. I have heard of " Christian" daycares that are far from what one might expect. I mean, saying a blessing over the food at lunch does not make a Christian setting. Montessori is a philosophy and it cannot be bought at a store. Sure, you can buy the materials suggested but what is going on in each room? The name of my facility is Bright Beginnings. I opened this when I had made a change in my life so it was more a reflection of me than anything else. Don't judge a book by it's cover - or title. Go inside... check it out. You must choose a place based on what is best for your child. Preschool children need a place whose philosophy is age appropriate and based on what is best for children. Sure, it sometimes it might be best for me to throw a worksheet down in front of a child and ask them to set for 20 minutes while I start dinner or answer a phone call but is it best for children?  

According to this awesome book I just read here are somethings you should look for. It is noisy, the children are engaged in play and the teachers are interacting with them. There is children's art decorating the walls - not 20 apples that all look the same because the teacher cut them out and helped paste them together. REAL children's art isn't perfect . There are tables with engaging activities on them... not worksheets. There are children inside and outside. There are no time out chairs. There are no computers You will hear laughter and singing and see smiling faces . There will be toys, equipment and readily available materials. It will smell nice. It will not be overwhelmingly cute. You will see real emotions, even good kids have bad days. But you will see teachers consoling and comforting. There will be people there that enjoy their job you can see it in their faces. They have created an environment that a child can get lost in the curiosity and spend their days surrounded by wonder and discovery . Your heart will be happy, your breathing will be calm and your mind will be at ease. You will know you have found a happy place. " When children are in environments that provide enough time each day for creating. moving, singing, discussing, observing, reading and playing they are able to engage in experiences that are strengthening the foundation that will prepare them for school. These are the preschools that are strengthening the foundation that supports the house of higher learning. The play-based programs are the ones that are " getting them ready" - not the ones with homework, computers and worksheets. Preschool is not the time nature set aside as a boot-camp for kindergarten. Right now children need to be creating, moving , singing, discussing, observing , reading and playing. The author also said " adults suffer from childhood amnesia". Have we all forgotten what it is like to be a child. I have heard it said - well, when I went to school we didn't play, we went to learn and we did just that. " well, most likely when you went to school ( or your mother who gives you advice) kids didn't enter formal education until they were 6 or 7. These kiddos in preschool are 3 and 4 . Give them a break. Let them... be little. Ok.. off my soap box. This is an AMAZING book. It is called " Play" by Lisa Murphy. She is my new hero.

1 comment:

Juliann said...

I will step up on that soap box with you. We have been dinged in our area for not being academic enough but we won't budge. We received a letter a year ago from the headmaster of a private school that is considered to be very elite. The letter commended us on sending them children who are so ready for kindergarten and stating that they appriciate the work we are doing. So I guess a play-based, developmentally appropriate program that values children as uniquely created individuals can provide children will a good early education. You just stick to your guns and keep reading - there are lots of folks and studies to support this understanding.