A while back I asked you, readers, for your opinions on preschool. I listed a bunch of pros and cons and seriously considered not sending her this year, despite her ongoing desire to go.
Despite her Daddy’s reservations and my own internal conflict, I started looking into preschool options locally. I had to scrap a few right off the bat because they were simply cost prohibitive. It left me with a couple options. A co-op preschool, a county funded preschool (with about 15 different school options), or a state funded preschool.
The state funded preschool wouldn’t let me enroll her because she didn’t meet their age cut off, so I started looking into the county preschools. I discovered that one of the programs was a teaching lab school on-site at the local college.
I was in.
See, the thing about lab schools is that they are generally well funded. They are always well staffed. And, typically, they use a fully developed curriculum and emphasize best practices.
I nailed this one.
We got to visit her preschool yesterday and it was a wonderland. There were no desks. There was a table for painting and places to sit, but no rows of little desks.
They have a large class room (twice the size of the bottom floor of my townhouse) and it is full of spaces for the kids to explore and engage with. There are musical instruments, books and reading areas, games and puzzles, dress up and pretend areas, science areas, art areas, and more little engaging pieces of stuff than I can possibly name.
They have an outdoor the size of a nearby park with jungle gyms and balance beams, water tables, tricycles, and a sandbox that’s bigger than my living room. And the door is always open. The outdoors is part of the classroom.
There are twenty-five kids in her class and one teacher with three full time assistants.
Now here’s the really cool part: they teach using what’s called constructivism. That means that the entire environment is teaching. Every object in the room has a lesson and a purpose and will educate just by being played with. And they let the kids learn. The teachers will engage with the kids where they are and do things with them that they want to do. They’ll teach, but they won’t interfere with learning.
They’ll still have group activities and song, story and circle time, but those will come at the end of the morning, when the kids have explored and played and calmed down.
I’m amazed. I thought that I was going to feel guilty for sending her away from me during the day. Instead I find that I feel guilty for not giving her this environment earlier, either at home or away from me.