The following is an excerpt from the “Teaching Philosophies” page on our preschool site.
Our goal at A&HT Wyoming Preschool is to provide a safe and stimulating environment that promotes the social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development of each child enrolled. We realize that each child will grow and develop at their own rate. Some children will come to preschool already knowing their ABC’s, and 123’s. Some may just start recognizing their letters at the end of the preschool year. Some children may come to preschool knowing how to write their name, and some may not be writing at all. Over the course of the school year, we expose and instruct each child in academic skills such as letter recognition, counting, basic addition, writing, etc., but not all students will be ready to master these skills before the end of preschool, and that is OKAY. Our preschool goal is to set the stage for the learning, not to force children into activities that are not age-appropriate, or they are not ready for. When we do see a child developing in a certain area, we do our best to encourage that development along with the traditional preschool curriculum.
Throughout my teaching career, I have met all kinds of families and parents. The parents and families that I meet all have different expectations of what a child should be doing in preschool. At A&HT Wyoming Preschool, we have specific goals and objectives for each child to meet each year they are at preschool. These goals are based on standard age-appropriate educational standards, that work to prepare your preschooler for kindergarten. In fact, many of the same goals and objectives that we assess will be found on your child’s kindergarten report card. (This is true with Wyoming schools. Abe and Cal, my sons, worked on many of the same things in kindergarten that we covered in preschool). Please note that some of our goals may overlap from year to year, just like some of the kindergarten and Pre-K goals overlap. After all, don’t we all need to be reminded of proper social skills? Some of our art projects also may overlap from year to year. I have had some parents ask in the past “Why did my child make the same caterpillar/cocoon/butterfly project that they made last year?” I usually respond by explaining, “That is because repetition is so important at this young age. Also, a four-year-old will experience and perform the project in a completely different way than a three-year-old would. Plus, if we repeat the project we have found it beneficial to repeat it. Also, it is a darn good project that the children love and would learn from by doing again.”
I have also had some parents suggest that our preschool was not “academic enough”. My response is again, that we provide the foundations for learning through age-appropriate learning activities. Even if a child is reading fluently at age three, they still need preschool, and to participate in the preschool curriculum. For example, I have twin boys. Calvin was reading (and I don’t mean memorizing), before the age of 3. I remember the day my mom said that he read the word “Clubhouse” on the preschool play equipment. (I also remember not believing her and dismissing it as “grandma craziness”.) Abe started reading right around his 3rd birthday.* By four, they both could basically read almost anything I would put in front of them. (okay, they did get stuck on some words, like hysterical and Presbyterian). Calvin was especially obsessed with letters and numbers. He even went to his friend Sam’s house for a play date and convinced Sam to take down the letters that spelled out “SAM, ANNIE, and JANEY” off the wall, to play with. Sam’s mom said they had never experienced that before during a play date. Is this normal behavior? No! This kid needed preschool exposure and curriculum just like all kids who are of preschool age. Yes, he could read at a second grade level, but he was still continually putting his underwear on backwards! My other son, who was also a reading machine, was also emerging into quite a math wizard. He had worked his way through the addition and subtraction tables, and was beginning multiplication, but, of course, he, too, still needed to be in preschool. Since I was running a preschool, and teaching at preschool, Abe and Cal were exposed to the foundations of learning at an early age. (I do like to say they emerged quickly academically because of the great preschool they attended.) My husband and I did not expect the preschool curriculum to change to teach multiplication and have second grade reading groups. We realized the importance of Abe and Cal participating in an age-appropriate preschool learning environment. They needed to know how to deal with a kid that was poking them in the back during group time, or what to do when someone said something mean. We also realized it was important for us as parents to step it up at home and continue to introduce the next steps in their educational development, and not expect the school to be the one to meet all of my child’s educational needs. Last year, I had a very bright student in class named Joey. His family did an excellent job of supporting the preschool curriculum, which they realized was important, and then offering Joey other learning opportunities during “home school” time.
*Over the years, (fifteen of them), I have only had four students come through the preschool who could read, and that is including my two boys. I usually end up with some students who are beginning to recognize sight words by the end of their Pre-K year, and they are usually the older ones in class. We do work on sight words throughout the school year. Some will be able to recognize them, and some will still not be able to, but what is important is that they are exposed to the learning opportunity to begin recognizing them. Please keep in mind that most children will began reading in Kindergarten, and with some it will click during the beginning of first grade. True reading in preschool is rare.