When researching preschools, many parents think about location, schedule, and tuition when deciding where to enroll. Yet there are also major educational philosphical differences that should be considered.
The school’s program philosophy has a lot of to do with the kinds of learning goals the school emphasizes, how the teacher interacts with the students, and what kind of toys and materials are available in the classroom. Finding the right fit for your child’s personality and your family’s values will help make his preschool years a positive experience.
This preschool philosophy, also known as “developmental,” is the most common in the United States. These schools believe that children learn best through play. This builds confidence, creativity, and a love for school while kids learn about a wide variety of things in an age-appropriate way.
Different stations are set up around the classroom—a reading corner, a dramatic play area, a puzzle table, etc. Teachers and facilitate learning while the children play and explore. For example, if children start exploring the sand table, the teacher may take that opportunity to talk about pouring and measuring. Kids generally move freely from one activity to another, though the group comes together for circle time, story time, etc.
There is a strong emphasis on social skills and getting along with others by sharing, taking turns, and resolving conflicts with words instead of crying or hitting. Teachers facilitate these skills by helping kids negotiate who gets to play with a toy or which role each gets to assume in make believe play.
Mill Valley's Greenwood School has announced the opening of its new preschool for fall 2010. Greenwood School will offer a Waldorf-inspired preschool program for children ages 3–5 where students are provided with a secure, caring, and structured home-like environment to begin their school years. This newly established preschool program will offer an early childhood experience where teachers create a safe and meaningful classroom community in which children hear stories, see puppet shows, sing, bake bread, make soup, learn to make beautiful and useful things, explore nature, build houses and structures out of natural materials, and celebrate seasonal festivals.
Two-, three-, and five-day programs are available as well as afternoon care from 12:30 to 5:30 pm. Applications are now being accepted for September 2010, and children may enroll at any time during the year if space is available. Enrollment is open to all children who are 2 years 9 months to 4 years 6 months by June 1 prior to desired entry.
Marin Waldorf School in San Rafael is offering a new Parent-Child program starting December 3. If you want to learn more about the Waldorf approach to parenting principles, this is a good way to try it out and get acquainted. These are warm and inviting gatherings, filled with a spirit of play, community, and love for the parenting journey.
Each meeting also includes open discussion about parenting and how Waldorf ideas can support parents and provide skills to nurture their relationship with their child.
Special Season Session for Young Toddlers
December 3, 10 and 17
Thursdays 9 to 10:30 am
Session fees: $75
Pre-crawlers to Crawlers
Thursdays, January 7–April 1 and April 22–June 10, 11:30 am to 1 pm
Babies and Pregnancy, for Pregnancy and Infants
Fridays, January 8–April 2 and April 23–June 11
11 am to 12:30 pm
Session fees: winter $275, spring $185
Young Toddlers, walking up to 2 years of age.
Fridays, January 8–April 2 and April 23–June 11, 9 am–10:30 am
Session fees: winter $275 • spring $185
Older Toddlers, 20 months to 3 ½ years.
Thursdays, January 7–April 1 and April 22–June 10
9 to 11 am or Saturdays, 9:30 to 11:30 am
Session fees: winter $300, spring $200
“Come si dice?” “Comment le dit-on?” “How do you say it?”
Take a look at any local parenting website, newsletter, or newspaper and you’ll see plenty of ads for language enrichment programs for kids. What is this increasingly popular phenomenon and why should you take advantage of it?
According to neurobiologists, the human brain is “hardwired” to learn languages as an infant and toddler. Any language learned during this period is stored, literally, in a different part of the brain than language acquired later in life, and in the right environment young children can learn up to four languages without significant slowdown. No kidding. At this age the brain has a limited-time-only specialized plasticity to form the neural pathways necessary for easily and naturally absorbing multiple languages. This ability starts to taper by age three or four and is diminished by puberty. Ironically, high school is the age at which American children have historically been first formally exposed to a second language. Ask anyone who’s ever taken 9th grade Spanish how naturally and easily it came to them.