February 15, 2017

Getting Preschool Right

Getting Preschool Right: this is the title of a just-released article in the March/April 2017 edition of Scientific American Mind.  The author, Melinda Wenner Moyer, looks into the latest research and public policy on preschools and arrives at some conclusions that we already know something about at Friends’ preschool.

It has long been known that a quality preschool education sets up children for success in elementary school and beyond.  But what makes “quality”?

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, children succeed best in child-centered preschools that encourage children to learn via hands-on activities and play that are, for the most, part self-directed.

Our Friends’ School preschool teachers know that scaffolding play is essential. Our teachers skillfully guide – or “scaffold” – play and hands-on, child-led activities, which help children learn concepts more deeply.
Research tells us, and I see this every morning, that good teachers set up a variety of play experiences.  Through scaffolding children’s play, our teachers allow children to play and explore, but also guide them with suggestions, ideas, and discussions to support their growth.

The article highlights several recent studies that demonstrate the effectiveness and value of

There are alarming numbers from around the country on how little the U.S. invests in preschool programs. Sadly, we fall behind most other developed nations.  And this is not only in funding, but also in philosophy.  Our country has had such push from politicians and others to create rigor and accountability, that preparation and readiness have become a national priority.

At Friends’, we believe the opposite.  We believe in meeting children where they are at and supporting their growth in a way that is natural, not forced.

According to the author, high quality preschool programs require a lot of money, experience, and planning to create; and they take a tremendous a amount of skill to implement.

We believe in investing in our teachers.  In a profession that is traditionally low-paid and where preschool teachers earn considerably less than their K-12 colleagues, our Friends’ preschool teachers are paid on par with our elementary and middle school teachers.  And we support their professional development interests 100% (see my Among Friends’ article highlighting our entire preschool team’s trip to LA for several days of professional development).

I particularly enjoyed the following language that appeared in Ms. Moyer’s article:

What Makes A Good Preschool

  • Children have ample time to explore, play and be creative using a variety of materials.

  • Teachers are warm and responsive and encourage conversation and participation.

  • Kids feel safe and secure.

  • Teachers set limits about acceptable behavior but also work with students to help them label, understand and cope with emotions.

  • Teachers read to the children regularly – not just as a class but individually and in small groups.
These are things that I see every day in our quality preschool classrooms.

If your child has experienced all of these qualities at Friends’ Preschool, please recommend us to your friends and acquaintances.  We still have a few spots left for the fall of 2017 in our morning preschool and afternoon pre-Kindergarten classes. More information is available here. 

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