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!