September 15, 2010

Developmental or Academic preschool...and what to look for!

Posted by Becka
There seems to be 2 types of preschools, developmental and academic (I consider places like Montessori academic).

My oldest started out in a developmental preschool. I happen to teach there a month after he started. The teachers were not at all allowed to sit and actually TEACH anything...i.e use sheets, flashcards, workbooks, etc... in fact, at this particular one, we were barely allowed to sing learning songs! (This is why i moved both my son and myself to a rigorously academic one after a year of being there...he was 1 when he started and switched the day after his 2nd birthday).

Most new parents, and even some seasoned ones, do not know there is a difference (and this is sometimes a problem when their child is in a developmental focused school and they expect their child to be 110% ready for kindergarten). So when asked, I always promote the academic schools.

So let's compare!


learning through playing all day
acquiring skills without being directly taught
puzzle, block, play doh, etc... play with little to minimal  teacher interaction
minimal one on one "instruction" in reading, letters, numbers, math, etc...


highly structured environment
direct interaction and instruction
letter recognition and sounds
children usually working on projects and assignments
basic sight words/phonics to introduce early reading (1-3 letter words usually)

Montessori: (and why it is academic!)

The Montessori way of teaching, to me, is highly academic, but with minimal teacher interference.
You will NOT find toys in a Montessori classroom. (I always get looks when I say this!)
What you WILL find: (I used pictures to depict)

These may look silly, but with these items, children learn:

social and emotional skills
gross and fine motor and perceptual skills
practical life skills

and more!

I am SO glad I found the Montessori school for Wyatt that I did. I wish I knew more about the method when my older 2 were younger (especially since we lived within walking distance to one, and I never knew it, when Nick was little/shortly after Michele was born)

You all know by now my stance on education and how important it is, so I rarely suggest a developmental preschool, unless there are special circumstances! My oldest had a learning EXPLOSION after I switched him to an academic preschool :)

So, when picking a preschool for your child:
choose one that best suits their needs
look at the classrooms and how the teachers interact with the children
the educational background of the teachers
cleanliness of the school
how the teachers and staff treat the parents
low child:teacher ratio
low staff turnover
state licensed (and up to date)
even better...accredited
lots of outdoor time
adaptive curriculum
other parents opinions

Just to name a few!

Stay at home, business owning mom of 4 young kids, Nick the Sportsman, Michele the Princess, Wyatt the Wild One, and Evan the Baby.Bachelor in Early Childhood Development and Education, with 20 years experience. I could not ask for anything more!

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