Preschool Is Real School
Tia Lessin’s two year old son, Sascha, is in a home instruction group that they call “playschool Brooklyn.” She decided to put Sascha in this group because she and her husband wanted to “ease Sascha’s transition to a structured classroom environment.” Tia is now looking for the right preschool for him, and is seeking “a warm nurturing environment, cleanliness, play focused (not academic focused) curriculum, and kind and joy filled teachers.
” Tia is not alone in her search for a specific style of preschool; however, experts have differing opinions about which approach is most appropriate. Regardless of the particular approach, experts agree on one thing: receiving preschool education has life-long benefits. Many people mistake preschool for daycare, assuming that kids are simply being watched, sort of like a babysitting service. However, preschool is, in fact, academic and a lot of thought and planning goes into their curriculums. High Scope is one example of a highly thought out approach to early childhood education. According to their web site, High Scope programs focus on engaging students in hands on projects.
Students that are enrolled in a preschool with a High Scope curriculum have a set schedule every day that they have to learn to follow. They have planning time for what they want to do during the day, they have both large and small group work, and they have time to rest and reflect on how their day went. This approach is used so that students have the chance to be in charge of how they want their day to go. “I feel preschools that use the HighScope approach are the most appropriate settings for children because they allow children to be hands-on and take into consideration each child’s individual interests, abilities and development,” said Christine Snyder, an early childhood education specialist at High Scope. Bloomingdale Family Program, a Head Start preschool with locations in Upper Manhattan, has a similarly structured approach to preschool.
They focus on their curriculum, making sure they have caring teachers and identifying concerns in development at an early age, so children can get the necessary help. Marilyn Barnwell, the program director of Education at Bloomingdale said, “I strongly feel Early Childhood Education is the foundation and baseline for all learning. Because ECE happens at the early time of human development when learning happens rapidly it offers young children a valuable opportunity to learn cognitive skills, social-emotional skills, readiness skills and self-help skills at this perfect time of their development.” She also explained that “at Bloomingdale, the daily structure includes opportunities for children to explore learning on their own or with others in small groups. The teachers are present to facilitate all of their learning activities.The daily schedule offers opportunities for active learning in all of the learning domains.
Teachers plan activities based on each child’s development, culture and their interests.” A Bloomingdale preschool teacher, Nicholas Donis, studied law for many years before realizing that he wanted to do something that would have more of an influence on society. He chose to go back to school to become a preschool teacher exactly for this reason. Donis explained that preschool helps children later in life. He said, “Early childhood education lays a foundation for social and emotional development.
It creates a love for learning at an early age.” As a lawyer, he explained, he wouldn’t be able to have such a direct, positive, and lasting impact on people’s lives. This influence, is very well-documented. According to the Perry Preschool Project, a study that took place from 1962-1967, children who attended preschool have, by age 27, completed on average 1 full year more of school than other students. Their graduation rate is 44% higher, and they have 50% fewer teen pregnancies.
By age 40, they had 42% higher income, and they are 46% less likely to go to jail. Snyder also explained, anecdotally, that “as children enter elementary school from a high quality preschool program, they are more able to work with others, accomplish self-help tasks and have a higher sense of self-confidence.” Preschool’s importance is so well-documented that, in New York City, the new mayor is proposing a plan for universal preschool. According to his web site, Bill de Blasio has “called for an increase in taxes for New Yorkers earning $500,000 or more to dramatically expand after-school programs for all middle schools students, and to create truly universal pre-K programs.” This program is popular among many New Yorkers, since preschool is so integral to future academic and personal success.