Thursday, May 7, 2009

Preschool: Finding a good fit

I have determined that I am not a Montessori kind of girl.

The best way I can describe it is that the philosophy just doesn't resonate with me. I went to an open house at one Montessori preschool a few weeks ago and it was fine, but I just didn't get it. The stations, the progression. The uber-structure of the tasks juxtaposed with the free-flowing child centred timetable to work through them.

I thought I would give it another shot last night, hitting the open house of a different preschool, this one defined as "beyond" Montessori and located in a central and very interesting downtown location. I wanted to like it, for the geography alone. But it just isn't a fit for me or my Will. When they beamed about 3 year-olds learning the continents and the countries and "colouring them the same way as the map" I thought, "So what?" Not to mention wondering why on earth they couldn't colour the continents any way they pleased.

I know Montessori works for a lot of people. I am sure it is exactly the right environment for a lot of kids. I have also learned to trust my instinct as this child's mother, and I know it is not for us.

The good news is that the other preschool we visited last night is an amazing fit. If Will was 2 1/2 and toilet trained (the minimum requirements) I would probably start sending her tomorrow.

This preschool is located inside a nursing home. When I told this to my sister she thought it was the scariest thing she had ever heard, but I don't see it that way at all. What an incredible experience for both the children and the residents, full of possibility. And the discussion I had with the teacher met my expectations.

She talked about how the program is primarily for socialization. The kids learn to take direction from an adult who isn't their parent, interact with their peers and work independently. It focuses on creativity and play, and there is some "circle time" where they learn to sit and listen in a more direct way, preparing of course for kindergarten.

This is exactly what I was looking for in a preschool. But what I loved even more was the teacher's attitude. She acknowledged that sometimes on a rainy day the kids just need to blow off some steam, so they take their instruments and march through the halls, making music. That "circle time" at the beginning of the year probably lasts about 5 minutes and gradually progresses. That when they have a tea party "upstairs," the residents let them use real china tea cups.

I love it.

And Will? Well, she went right for the costume jewelry, then stayed with a preschool parent and painted a picture while her dad and I toured the outside space. She seems to agree that it is a good fit.

1 comment:

Chraycee said...

That is so awesome! I love the idea of the preschool in the old folks home :)