Re: Preschool for 4 year old

    On 8/18/16, Nicole wrote:
    > I am struggling with the choice of an academic preschool
    > where my son is currently enrolled which has Spanish,
    > science, math/computer, fun and fitness, and English
    > lessons (with specialized teachers) vs a play based
    > curriculum. Which is better or does it even matter? My
    > son is extremely bright but I worry that it's a bit much
    > his age. He will be ready for first grade before he's 5.
    > Thoughts???

    I am a bit biased as I am a retired Montessori pre school
    teacher. I wonder why the two need to be separate - play
    based and academic? I loved teaching Montessori because
    children could have the freedom to be children yet have the
    opportunity to learn just about anything their minds and
    motivation were ready for. Purposeful "work" is child's play.
    Since Montessori is not group based learning but rather
    individual, that is why my classrooms would have quite a mix
    of children who were typical, gifted, learning challenged,
    not English speaking, etc. Each child was able to have his or
    her needs met

    Although Montessori was originally rooted in special
    education, many people have all sorts of beliefs as to what
    "type" of student the schools attract. Some feel that the
    schools are for gifted children. Some think it is only for
    special education. Some think it is only for the rich. All
    sorts of misconceptions. A good Montessori school would have
    a mix of everything - variety makes the experience so much
    richer for everyone. I never had an aide for my special
    education students in the classroom and I usually had
    anywhere between 18 to 30 students with an assistant. The
    classes also consisted of a balance of three different ages -
    2 1/2 years through age 6.

    The schools tend to be extremely expensive on the east and
    west coasts, but it is possible to find affordable Montessori
    schools everywhere. The key is to find an authentic
    Montessori school. The name is not trademarked so just about
    anyone can open a school and put the name Montessori on it.
    You have to do a lot of research to read what it means to be
    "authentic". Then you should visit several schools (all
    kinds, not just Montessori) until you get a "feel" for what
    seems right for your child AND your family.

    Some families balk about sending their child to Montessori
    for just the reason that it is recommended that the child
    attend five days a week rather then part time. There are very
    good reasons for that recommendation that the director of the
    school should be able to address. It doesn't have to be full
    days, half days are fine, but usually the children are ready
    for full days by age 5.

    I certainly wouldn't be concerned that your child will be
    ready for first grade before he is 5. I had so many former
    students who graduated first in their senior classes over the
    past several years who obviously did just fine in their
    traditional schools. I am also proud to say that one of those
    is a gold medal Olympian this year, too. I love watching the
    achievements of my former students and a couple even
    surprised me. I just find joy when they grew up to be good
    people and are making the world a better place in their own
    unique ways.

    Around here, looking for a placement in any preschool would
    have started in the spring at the very latest. Most of ours
    are full by now, but of course, that would be different in
    different locales. You sound like a caring, loving parent who
    wants the best for your child. Only you can research all the
    options and make the decision of the best placement for your
    son. Best wishes to you and I am sure his behavior in his
    classroom will tell you if you made the right decision. It's
    tough to always know, but depending on your area, there is
    often a lot of choices for preschools as you are finding out.
    Good luck!