What Are the Characteristics of a Quality Preschool?
“Children are born ready to learn. They cultivate 85% of their intellect, personality and skills by age five. The first months and years of life set the stage for lifelong development.”
(National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 2000. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.)
Using current research on brain development and its impact on early learning, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers guidelines for choosing a quality preschool program. In a quality program:
- Children spend most of their playing and working with materials or other children. They do not wander aimlessly, and they are not expected to sit quietly for long periods of time.
- Children have access to various activities throughout the day. Look for assorted building blocks and other construction materials, props for pretend play, picture books, paints and other art materials, and table toys such as matching games, pegboards, and puzzles. Children should not all be doing the same thing at the same time.
- Teachers work with individual children, small groups, and the whole group at different times during the day. They do not spend all their time with the whole group.
- The classroom is decorated with children’s original artwork, their own writing with invented spelling, and stories dictated by children to teachers.
- Children learn numbers and the alphabet in the context of their everyday experiences. The natural world of plants and animals and meaningful activities like cooking, taking attendance, or serving snack provide the basis for learning activities.
- Children work on projects and have long periods of time (at least one hour) to play and explore. Worksheets are used little if at all.
- Children have an opportunity to play outside every day. Outdoor play is never sacrificed for more instructional time.
- Teachers read books to children individually or in small groups throughout the day, not just at group story time.
- Curriculum is adapted for those who are ahead as well as those who need additional help. Teachers recognize that children’s different background and experiences mean that they do not learn the same things at the same time in the same way.
- Children and their parents look forward to school. Parents feel secure about sending their child to the program. Children are happy to attend; they do not cry regularly or complain of feeling sick. (http//:oldweb.naeyc.org/ece/1996/01.asp: “10 Signs of a Great Preschool.”)
NAEYC accredited programs complete a rigorous self-study and external review to prove that they meet standards of excellence in early childhood education. First Presbyterian Weekday School is proud to have achieved this distinction. Feel free to give us a call to schedule a tour. Registration for the 2017-2018 school year will be held February 6 and 7. For more info, call: (540)662-7588.
We at the Weekday School wish you well!