View Full Version : HELP!!! Parent of pre-schoolers - what do you like/dislike about the program? Need halep deciding!

10-05-2004, 03:32 PM
Help! I thought I had my mind made up and I just went to look at the pre-school at the Y today and it is signifcantly less than the pre-school program I had already LOVED (I looked as I needed a viable back-up just in case we didn't get in at our first choice plus the price was enough to make me curious).

For moms of current pre-schoolers - what do you most like/dislike about the program your child is in.

is there anything specific I should look for? (how much music/art they have, teachers qualifications, etc...) Also, any thoughts on a 2 vs. 3 day program for your two year old? Finally - how long of a half-day program is it? One school is 2.5 hours and the other is just 2 - will that make a difference to Ryan or just to me?


10-06-2004, 03:11 AM
What we love best about our program is the teachers (and we had a 90% turnover rate from last year!) At my daughter's school they don't require that the teachers have teaching certificates, but some of them do, some have previously run day-care centers.

Our program is 4 hours 3 days a week. I love having 3 days, but I guess it really depends on how scheduled you like to be (I like having at least one activity a day 'scheduled'). I don't think the 1/2 makes a lot difference to him, but I do wonder what they can accomplish in only 2 hours (and I know that I couldn't even get the grocery shopping done in that length of time!).

Our program is based on phonemes (think letter of the week). So all the art/songs/stories center on the phoneme of the week. They also have a number of the week, color of the week, and shape of the week. Each day the classes all get together for a shared experience. Mondays is art, Wednesdays is chapel, and Fridays is culture (we live in Japan).

One think I LOVE that our teacher does is send home a newsletter each week that says what they worked on and what is coming up. This letter also gives us the snack schedule, makes requests for donations (we were asked to plastic grocery bags), gives timely information (next Wednesday is Red day, so wear red!), and keeps parents up to date (please pack a smaller lunch for so and so).

It is rather cliche, but probably the best thing to do is sit in on a class and see what they do.

Jen in Okinawa
Mom to a wonderful preschooler,
who is almost three, Noelle!

10-06-2004, 03:41 PM
Karen, we chose the school where DD currently attends preschool (she started in a parent-tot class) because it just felt right. From the moment DH and I walked in for our observation (DD went with us), we knew that this was the right place for us. I highly second the recommendation to observe the program. Ours let the three of us participate for a full class. We did it when we were choosing the parent-tot class and, even though we were comfortable with the school at that point, we also did it when we decided on the preschool.

I think the most important things to look for are how the teachers are engaged with the kids, (i.e. how they handle conflict, how they encourage kids to participate in activities); what are the opportunities for kids to interact with one another; what is the mix of structured vs. unstructured activities (are kids moved from activity to activity at certain intervals or is there a long time (like an hour) for free play and then they move into group time); how they introduce basic learning concepts. There's not necessarily a right or wrong answer to these questions, it's a matter of what you are most comfortable with.

I would call our program low-key,and I really like that. There's not a big push on formal learning, kids are learning by exploring. Each week is based on a theme (our pre-k is a community program in a religious school so the theme lately has been around the recent religious holidays)and the art project, stories and sometimes songs revolve around the theme. That's one of my favorite things. The program is very child centered and that comes through in their policies ( e.g. there's not a cut off to be potty trained because they think kids are ready to do this at different times)and the way the teachers approach the kids.

I honestly couldn't tell you the qualifications of the teachers. I didn't look into how much formal training they had or if they are certified. It didn't mean that much to me. DD's class has special activities each day -- yoga, singing with a teacher with a guitar and library -- and that's great but I consider it just an extra, not something I would choose the program on. The program is 2.5 hours 3 days a week. We could have done 5 days, but that seemed like too much. I think 3 days is enough to get into the grove. I think 3 days is more desirable than 2 days, but if I really liked the other program, it wouldn't be a deal breaker. I don't think Ryan will notice the .5 hour difference, but as the PP said, it is hard for us the parents to get anything done in 2.5 hours, 2 hours would be harder!

Another reason for attending both programs for a full day with Ryan -- it may be your only chance to see what actually happens, because if he's anything like Roley, you'll never hear about his day again! Roley will not tell you what she did in school unless you ask very specific questions. So, since I know that they do this circus game to get the kids ready to wash their hands and have a snack I can ask her what her trick was that day and she'll show me. If I hadn't seen it in action myself, I never would have known to ask. Our school also does a weekly handwritten xerox with the higlights and theme of the week so we have a little clue about what happened, and that's nice.

Good luck -- I'm sure you'll make the right choice.

Paula -- mom to Roley Julia, January '02

10-07-2004, 11:49 AM
I typed a long post and lost it so here is the short version!! I think the most important things is to find a program where you feel comfortable and that your child will be loved and well cared for. I'd ask parents who have kids in the program what they think (likes/dislikes), make sure the room they will be in is large enough for all the kids, do they have plenty of toys, and are there floaters to help if a child needs extra attention.

DD attends a parent's day out program twice a week that is 4 hours long. They have free play, outside/gym time, story/music time, arts/crafts, snack, lunch...we both love the variety of activities but really the main thing I want out of it (other than a break) is time for her to play with other kids.

HTH and good luck!

10-13-2004, 05:16 PM
I know that this sounds really cliche but go with your instincts. You will know if you feel comfortable. Observing a class can be important. Some pre-shool centers have two-way mirrors so the teacher doesn't even know you're watching so you don't feel like they are "acting".
First, decide if you like a large program or a smaller, home type program. For me, the clencher for choosing my son's pre-school was the lack of turn-over. I know it's somewhat inevitable, but if staff have been there for a long time, it's obviously a pleasant place to work. His teacher has been there for 15 years(as have several others) and clearly has great experience and is so comfortable with the kids. I really do like her very much. There is also a helper that is shared with another classroom which is important to me because I know Ryan will get extra attention when necessary on harder days.
Just curious, when are you starting Ryan in preschool?(love the name by the way! ;) ) My son Matthew is a few days older than your Ryan and I think I'm going to start him in a 2 day program when he's 2 1/2 next fall. I didn't start my older son until this year at 4 and it's been a tough transition. He still cries sometimes when I leave and I just feel guilty that I didn't start him last year so he would be more adjusted. Anyway, sorry to ramble! Hope this helps.

SAHM to...
Ryan 8/14/00
Matthew 2/14/03