Pre-elementary

An informative briefing on private preschools. We’ll provide information on early childhood education approaches from Montessori to Reggio Emilia, testing and assessments for preschool admission and advice on finding the right school for your child.
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Pulished |
Your Child Isn't Happy at His Preschool?
What do you do when you realize that your child is unhappy at his preschool?
Despite your best efforts, in depth interviews and hours of due diligence you begin to realize that the school which you thought was so perfect for your preschooler is in fact the wrong one. So, what do you do when things don't work out?
 
I have just been through this stressful situation with one of my grandchildren. (I won't mention which school or name names out of professional courtesy.) It was a gut-wrenching experience for my daughter and son-in-law just as it would be for any set of concerned parents.
 
The warning signs

The warning signs of a bad fit are simple to detect: your child is unhappy. She comes home from school in tears or frustrated or both. She doesn't look forward to going to school in the morning. The last thing any parent wants is a four year old who doesn't want to go to school.
 
Red flags by rvw, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  rvw 

You won't necessarily notice that something is wrong. There probably won't be a big blow up at school.  What's more likely to happen is a series of little events over a period of several weeks, perhaps even months. An isolated incident of unhappiness is nothing to be worried about....
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Pulished |
Your Options for Daycare and Preschools: Part 1
Here are some talking points as you begin to think about daycare and preschool options.
Factoid: 
"According to the 1995 U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), over thirty-six percent of families of preschoolers with working mothers primarily relied on child care in the home of a relative, family day care provider or other non relative. Almost twenty-six percent of families used organized child care facilities as their primary arrangement."   Preschool: preparation for learning or more daycare

Daycare: A Widely Available Option
Decades ago when you had a child, mother stayed home and looked after the baby. Father went to work. In the 21st century that model seems so quaint. Also not viable. Most families need two or more incomes just to stay afloat these days. That's where daycare comes in.
 
How does daycare work?
Daycares take infants from the age of six weeks. Typically they are open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Some facilities open earlier and close later.
 
How much does daycare cost?
The cost of daycare varies according to the area in which you live. Major metropolitan areas are going to be more expensive. Daycare in a rural setting will usually be much less expensive. Tuition ranges from $250 to $400 per week for infants. Somewhat less for toddlers. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are usually provided.
 
Who regulates and licenses daycares?
Daycares are licensed and regulated by state and local government. The licensing requirements vary widely. So do the regulations governing daycares. You will need to do your own due diligence very carefully before you make arrangements to leave your precious infant with any...
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Admissions Testing: Preschoolers
The pressure to get your child into the right school starts at a very early age. We look at some of the assessment hurdles your child might face depending on which school you are considering.
When our daughters went to preschool back in the '70s, we took them in for an interview and that was about it. The children were toilet-trained and pretty well socialized. But as I recall, there were no formal assessments of their cognitive skills and so on. As far as their mother and I were concerned, our daughters were gifted children. But we never had any formal assessment of our suspicions until the girls were much older.

That's all changed in the 21st century. Preschools want to know what your child knows and is capable of. At age 2 and 1/2. So, against that backdrop let's look at some of the more common ways preschools assess applicants. And, perhaps even more important from our point of view as parents, let's try to understand why such testing is necessary.

Common Assessment Tools

Otis-Lennon School Ability Test?, Eighth Edition
Commonly known as Olsat, this test is popular in New York City where it is a requirement for admission into programs for gifted children.

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™-Third Edition (WPPSI™-III)
At some point in the preschool admissions process or perhaps later, you will encounter the ouevre of David Wechsler. Dr. Wechsler was a psychologist perhaps most famous for his tests which measured IQ or Intelligence Quotient. He also developed the assessment test known as WISC. The latest versions of WISC are published by Pearson, one of the leaders in the testing/assessment field.

Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales 
About the same time as...
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Should You Prep Your 4 Year Old?
To prep for the preschool admissions test or not to prep. That is the question.
If you live in New York City and are thinking about sending your child to pre-school, you know how competitive the situation is. At least with the desirable schools. There are simply dozens more applicants than there are available places.

Most New York independent schools use the ERB as part of their admissions testing. A low score will most likely preclude your child from further consideration. So, the question is whether or not to prep or not to prep your child for the test. Most schools take a dim view of that practice. Yet some parents feel that they have no other choice. As a result, Jenny Anderson reports in Private School Screening Test Loses Some Clout that several Manhattan schools are dropping or thinking about dropping the test altogether.

So, once again parents are caught between wanting their child to get into the best school and making that happen. What do you do? After all, the goal is to get little Cedric into an Ivy League college so that he can get the best possible education and make the most money he can? Right? Perhaps you need to assess what the best possible education for your child really is. Perhaps raising a happy, well-adjusted child who can cope with everything life will offer is more important. Those are choices which you need to make. Your core values come into play here. Just remember that you are setting the foundation for your child's adult life.

The reality is that...
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Comparison of Montessori, Waldorf & Reggio Emilia
A table comparison of the three popular early childhood education approaches.
There are three early childhold education approaches which enjoy great popularity in the United States and indeed throughout the world. They all had their origins in teaching European society's poorest, most disadvantaged children. Dr. Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner and Reggio Emilia founder, Loris Malaguzzi, believed in the intrinsic abilities and capabilities of children. Their approaches, philosophies and methods had a single, common purpose: to produce a better society in which human beings would respect each other and live in harmony and peace.

In America these three educational approaches took root not in the poorest segments of society but in a middle and upper class eager to have something better than what was offered in the public school systems. Here is a comparison of the main features of the three methods.

Montessori
Waldorf
Reggio Emilia
Founder
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)
Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994)
Philosophy
Education of the whole child
Education of the whole child
Education of the whole child
Spirituality
Religious even mystical
Anthroposophy
Spiritually aware.
Classroom Materials
Prepared by teacher
Prepared by students
Prepared by teacher
Teaching Style
Teacher guides.

Different teacher for each multiage class.
Teacher directs.

Teacher stays with class throughout primary years
Teacher collaborates.

Teacher stays with class for 3 years.
Learning Activities
Children work in groups according to their interests at various learning centers.
Children work as a class on activities designed to develop imagination and...
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