Home Life by Bev and Phil Haas
I took the advice of friends and enrolled our 3-year-old daughter in preschool with their children, but now I’m having doubts about the decision. Is it really that important for a child to have this “jump” before entering kindergarten? I’m not even sure this is the right preschool for her personality.
Like most parents, you want what is best for your daughter. The tension comes from determining what is best. Since no one knows your daughter better than you, resist the pull to let others determine what you do. No matter how well intentioned friends might be, you are the one who must gather the information and make an informed decision. God has given you the responsibility of training your child (Proverbs 22:6).
Most experts agree there are multiple ways for children to develop the skills necessary for kindergarten. A study by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development found that children do best if they’re cared for by someone who is genuinely concerned about their well-being and development and who makes sure they’re doing a variety of age-appropriate activities. They needn’t be enrolled in an organized preschool for that.
If the main reasons you want to send your child to preschool are that she seems eager to learn and explore, isn’t getting enough stimulation, or seems ready to broaden her social horizons and interact with other children, chances are it’s the perfect time to start school.
Purposes of the Preschool
What do you hope to achieve by enrolling your daughter in preschool? Take into account the following considerations:
—Fostering emotional development
—Providing an academic foundation
—Developing a love of learning
—Acquiring new friends
—Providing a safe place to explore and learn
—Providing opportunities for independent learning
Options for Types of Preschools
Preschools vary in name, type or philosophy, session length, and enrollment.
Religious. If spiritual beliefs are an important part of the way you are raising your child, then consider a church-sponsored preschool. Unless you are absolutely familiar with the school, don’t assume anything, even if it seems to be a match with your religious beliefs. Do your own research and confirm that the teaching style and what is being taught match with your needs and requirements.
Specialized Philosophies. A program may use one or several early childhood learning philosophies to guide the care and education it offers. Examples include: Montessori, Waldorf, High Scope, and/or Reggio Emili. The most popular, Montessori, was founded by pediatrician/psychiatrist Maria Montessori in 1907, and emphasizes the importance and connection of all living things, and the need for each person to find meaningful work and his or her own place in the world. Teacher “guides” take their cues from each child, who learns at his or her own pace. Montessori programs encourage a child’s sense of independence.
One of the biggest differences you will find is in the quality of care and education that programs offer. The term a program uses to describe itself does not indicate its level of quality. For example, a “preschool” is not necessarily more educational than a “child care center.” Two separate “nursery schools” may not offer programs of the same quality.
Selecting a program for your child is a personal decision. There is no right or best type of care. Quality matters most. In your search, visit the preschool with and without your child and talk to other parents.
Trust your instincts. A preschool may display new books and toys, have a gleaming new building, and be within your budget, but if it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t. It’s essential that you feel comfortable with the school’s director. We were involved in visiting preschools with our daughter and grandson. Expecting to prefer one in particular, we were surprised by the demeanor of the adults and decided to choose differently after watching personnel interact with Caden. You should also feel secure and pleased with the teachers who will be spending many hours with your child day in and day out.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children, and they have one grandson.