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Choosing a Preschool Program
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There are many different kinds of early care and education programs. If preschool is the program you’re opting for, you may be a bit confused by the various preschool curricula and philosophies. Learn more about five of the most common preschool programs. Choosing a Preschool Program
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Even though there are many different kinds of preschool programs out there, there are five that tend to be the most common:

Reggio Emilia
Reggio Emilia is a newer approach that comes from Italy and has been catching on in different parts of the United States. Reggio Emilio is about following the child’s lead and allowing the child to fully explore something to the fullest. It’s also about using the environment as a teacher, which means that whatever you’re setting up or whatever options you have there are going to enhance the learning and really expand upon that.

Principles:
Children must have some control over the direction of their learning.
  • Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing.
  • Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore.
  • Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.

  • Montessori
    Montessori programs focus on allowing children to really explore what they’re really going to do in real life. For example, instead of providing children with a fake tea set to play with, you would actually show them and have them use a real tea set. You would do these kinds of things in preparation for real life. The children are at the center with the teacher playing a more supportive kind of role, enhancing the children’s experiences and abilities to learn things that they’re really going to have to do in real life.

    Principles:
    Children direct their own learning, choosing among the sections of a well-structured and stocked classroom including Practical Life (fine and gross motor skill development), Sensorial (sensory and brain development), Language, Math, Geography, Science and Art.
  • The role of a teacher is to introduce children to materials and then remain a “silent presence” in the classroom.
  • Discourages traditional measurements of achievement (grades, tests).

  • High/Scope
    High/Scope is an approach that also has children at the center. High/Scope is really about setting up opportunities for children to plan something out beforehand, for example, making a smoothie. They would plan the activity and have the children participate in the process, and then they would review it. Typically, the approach might include 10 minutes of planning the activity, 20-30 minutes of doing the activity, and then 10 minutes of reviewing. It’s a philosophy of really involving the children and negotiating what goes on during that process.

    Principles:
    Children and adults learn best through hands-on experiences with people, materials, events, and ideas.
  • Emphasizes adult-child interaction, a carefully designed learning environment, and a “plan-do-review” process that strengthens initiative and self-reliance in children and young people.
  • Teachers and students are active partners in shaping the educational experience.

  • Academic-Based
    We know that programs are out there that are going to offer an opportunity for children to engage in really formal academic-type things. Sometimes parents feel that that’s absolutely necessary in order to get them ready for kindergarten. Academic-base programs are part of what’s out there, but if you choose that approach, you should really make sure that it’s developmentally appropriate and that children are doing things that they’re ready for.

    Principles:
    Preparing kids for kindergarten by taking a more academic approach.
  • Often includes tracing numbers and letters and doing worksheets in a highly structured environment.
  • Keep in mind that this is a very brief overview of these philosophies.

  • Remember, the best way to determine which preschool program is best for your child is to take into consideration your child’s needs, as well as what you hope the preschool experience will provide him or her with. Be sure to investigate all your options, and definitely visit the schools beforehand and spend some time observing.
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