How does a parent decide what kind of preschool their child should attend to begin their education? When parents first start looking for their child’s preschool, they are usually looking for a school that will replicate the kind of focus that they have at home. They’re looking for a ‘good fit’ for their child — a place their child can do well in, and grow confident in themselves.
If you aren’t aware, there are many different kinds of preschools for your child, including the ‘sit and watch television’ daycare models (no, thank you). But there are five basic archetypes for actual preschools dedicated to giving your child a learning experience with direct supervision. The spectrum seems to run on a line going from rigorous academics to exploring a child’s potential through child-led exploration to simple free play. At Creekside Kids, we’re not on the extreme end of either side of the spectrum–we are in the middle, taking the best of each method depending upon the needs of the actual children in our care.
What are the five different types of preschools?
Academic-Based — these schools are most focused on fitting your square peg child into the round hole. To quote Sarah Punkoney of stayathomeeducator.com, “Academic or skills-based programs are teacher directed and managed. This means that children have limited choice in the learning that takes place and how that learning happens.” This approach molds the child on a predetermined path. Although our view of this may make it sound harsh, please bear in mind that many children thrive on this approach– but what concerns us at Creekside is the holistic development of the whole child.
Montessori — the difference between the Montessori approach and Academic-based learning is that the child chooses how to squeeze their square peg potential into that round hole. The lesson plans are customized by the child’s aptitudes and interests. The Montessori system has a marvelous reputation for giving children a better chance. Being self-directed is very important in this model–especially as kids mature.
Waldorf — to stick to our analogy, the Waldorf model looks to find a universal shape that all children can fit into, building well-rounded children who are mindful and have received personal attention along the way. The Waldorf model has a specific scope and sequence for each grade and has great respect for rhythm and routine. The development of a child’s hands (physical health and growth), heart (non secular spiritual/social/emotional growth) and mind (academics, inquisitiveness and contemplative skills).
Reggio Emilia — this is Creekside’s holistic approach. In the analogy, this is about finding the precise shape for the child’s peg to fit, even if your child’s star-shape allows them to fit in a round hole. Play is greatly incorporated into lessons and is encouraged as a learning tool. It’s important to Reggio Emilia education to focus on finding that star-shaped hole to guide your child into their future, respecting their individual needs and giving them the kind of attention that translates into a sense of self-worth. In each Reggio Emilia or Reggio Emilia influenced school (like Creekside Kids) we ask who are the children in our care? Who are their families and what do they need/value? Then what community do they live in and how can we help the children develop into successful members of that community? We do this by observing how the children play, what they talk about, what they create through free art, etc. We then take their interests and build the ABCs and 123s into exploring those topics.
Play-Based — when academic preparation isn’t the concern, but learning social/emotional skills is, that is play-based preschool. While children may learn a few academics such as the alphabet song, counting to 10 or 20 and how to write their name, they do it without much pressure or guidance from educators. For the children, academic learning is done on their own terms and in their own time. You’ll see a lot of “centers” in the classroom such as “kitchen/house”, “library”, “sensory table”, “music” and “art”. At Creekside Kids, we have those centers too but we add in much more teacher interaction, experiments, exploratory play and focus not just on the social/emotional play approach.
All of these styles have merit and any might be right for your child. At Creekside Kids, we largely favor the Reggio Emilia approach with influence from the Play-Based approach and we pull from the routines and literacy methods of the Waldorf approach. We provide a combined approach because we feel it creates the greatest opportunities to respect what is unique and special in each child. If you’d like to discuss a place at Creekside Kids for your kids, we’d like to invite you to click this embedded link to schedule an appointment. Let’s get to know each other! Like us on Facebook to follow our stories for news and updates. We’re located at 1201 W Cheyenne Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, and we can be reached at (719) 635-9111. Our new hours of operation are 6:45 am until 5:45 pm, Monday through Friday.