Thursday, October 4, 2007

Preschool angst

Today, we visited a preschool together as a family. I loved the facility and the way it is run, which is why I dragged everyone along to go see the place. Elise warmed up to the teacher, students and activities pretty well. The teacher was kind, thoughtful, etc.


It was all direct instruction. For those of you in the teaching business, you know what I mean. For those of you who aren't, this gal made flash cards seem a bit like a game, and then did drills at the board. With four-year-olds. Never mind that this isn't seen as "best practice" in teaching and hasn't been for a long time. She was doing this with four-year-olds. The class of younger kids was this way as well, so it must be the thing across the institution.

As I look at more "preschools" in the area, I discover that they're all a lot like this. Get them young and train 'em up to sit in rows and answer questions. Am I crazy for thinking this is weird? Should I be pushing my kid to conform and perform already? Clearly a lot of people want this for their kids, and I just don't. She's going to be four soon, and because of her birthday we have nearly two years until kindergarten.

I'd like Elise to get in some good learning to play with others. I don't want her to be bored because I can see that when she is bored she does her own thing, which will cause problems for her later. Whatever happened to playschool?

Waaaaah. Yes, I know I'm whining. It's just frustrating that it's so hard to find a place that will let my kid play and grow at the same time.

Grandma Char had a great suggestion, which was to call the neighborhood elementary school and ask the kindergarten teachers what preschool experiences are valuable to kids entering their classrooms. I'll be doing that.

In the mean time, I could really use a few more suggestions!


Peter said...

I agree that so-called "direct instruction" is probably the wrong thing for a kid Elise's age. If we keep coddling them by giving them all the answers, they'll never grow up strong.

I advocate that you take a look at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.

"Do you know what a baby is saying when she reaches for a bottle?"


"She's saying, 'I am a leech'! Our aim here is to develop the 'bottle within'."

Anonymous said...

We've had all of the possums in a preschool, just a few hours a week, for social purposes. It's a difficult decision. For us, though, it was a bit easier because the university where DH works runs it's own children's center and it's rated one of the best in the state. They do some activities wherein the atmosphere is formal - but, that's usually for things like lunch and the 15 minutes that they do seat work. The rest of the morning is constructed around various "centers" wherein the kids work with age appropriate manipulatives and tasks. And, some of the "centers" are things like "dress up" and the "domestic area" (fake kitchen, dress up, little cribs with dolls). There's also plenty of outdoor time. I think that's one of the keys. Look for a place that recognizes that the kids learn the most through informal play.

If the schools have websites, I'd be willing to take a look and give you my thoughts. :)

SWE said...

Thanks! I will take you up on that offer. :)

And for my loyal readers, I think a number of you will like this here atheist in a mini van and her blog-go take a gander!