Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ideal Preschool (updated)

Natalie starts school in about 15 weeks; the parent information night is this week! 

While I am not as wound up as some parents get about preschool (i.e. the folks in Nursery University), I naturally have some concerns.  Sadly, one of the biggest concerns is because we are sending her to public school.  I believe in public school, but feel a little trapped.  We have to go through a lottery process just to be delegated to one specific school.  There is no choice.  Some of my concern is peer pressure.  The group of moms I spend time with has six other women.   Five of these women are using some form of private preschool (the remaining mother's child is still under 2).  In fact, my friend with an older daughter had to remove her daughter from the preschool program we are about to enter!  Not really a boat load of support from my peer group.  Don't get me wrong; my friends aren't directly unsupportive of our choice to use public school, but their choices to use private says a lot. 

The lack of information available to me about the public preschool program has been the most frustrating.  With the easy of creating a website, there is no reason that more information should not be readily available all year long regarding my city's public program.  And I feel completely uncomfortable asking to observe a class prior to enrollment, though that is pretty standard in the private preschool selection process.  This may be partly due to my public school teaching background.  The idea of a parent asking to observe my classroom in order to gain information about the school sounds pretty outrageous.  I have tons of questions about the program, but I don't want to bombard the teacher.  I don't want to be that parent.  I'm also worried about being the teacher parent.  Yet, it is my child, and I do feel a right to know.  I don't want to push my personality on Natalie.  I know that while I am anxious to know the details of how our lives will work in September, it is really too soon for Natalie to know.  In fact, we've probably already talked about school too much given her limited understanding of long range time. 

The rest of my concerns I think are pretty average.  I worry about how she will adjust to new kids and new adults in a role of authority.  (She currently mopes and cries if an adult other than Mike or I reprimand her even gently).  I wonder how she will handle taking the bus.  I worry she won't know how to communicate her needs.  I fear she'll have tantrums over waiting for the teachers attention or not getting her way.  I worry the school's prescribed start and end times will conflict with the schedule of activities I want to do with William.  And of course, there is a mix of excitement and sadness about sending my little girl off with strangers everyday. 

This is a recording of my thoughts on what I hope her preschool program includes. I know I'm  not an early education expert, but I am moderately educated on the subject and have common sense. 

  • Free play (i.e. Einstein Never Used Flashcards)
  • Literacy - access to books, being read to, transcribing stories, letters, rhyming
  • Math - counting, shapes, patterns, sorting, numerals
  • Socialization - interacting with peers, school routines
  • Fine motor - drawing / writing, cutting / tearing, finger play, using a mouse
  • Gross motor - dancing, jumping, running, climbing

At least once a week:
  • Social studies - history, community, cultures
  • Science - observing, questioning, life science, earth science
  • Art (everyday would be awesome)
  • Music (everyday would be awesome)
So, maybe one morning they learn about Betsy Ross and flags (social studies) through teacher reading them a related story (literacy).   They make flags (elements of art, math, and fine motor).  They learn to sing "You're a Grand Old Flag" (music) and march in a line (gross motor).

Or another morning, they could take turns (socialization) measuring seedlings they planted (math and science).  The teacher helps them enter the data on a chart that compares the growth of a plant in the sun versus the shade (math and science).   Maybe they go on a nature walk (gross motor) and collect plants.   Back in the classroom, they work together (socialization)  to sort them by shape, size or color (math).  Later, they could have the option to paint using pieces of nature, like leaves, sticks, or flowers (art and fine motor). 

As I've said, I have no early education training.  Maybe some of these ideas are too complex to do with many children of this age, but I know I could do them all with Natalie one-on-one.   If I can come up with these two sets of lessons that include so many elements, I would be disappointed if the preschool program could not. 

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