*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Bright Horizons.
Let’s face it, kindergarten isn’t just pretend play and blocks anymore. The standards and expectations are both much higher than they were when we went to school. And with the common core curriculum being implemented across the nation, assessment data is driving a lot of the decision making going on in schools today.
So let’s take a step back to preschool. Once our kids hit the ripe old age of 2 years and nine months, they are officially ready to be sent off into the universe to public or private preschools. So where should you send him? What do you want your child to get out of it? It’s not mandatory, so should you even bother spending the big bucks on a preschool education? Heck, did you know that kindergarten isn’t even mandatory in 14 states across our nation? Forget fully funded full day programs; let’s work on making kindergarten a requirement for all children across the country!
There are a lot of options out there for us moms regarding preschools. Cost, lotteries and special needs can also play a big factor in deciding where to send your child. So how do you decide? Word of mouth has always been a great way to learn more about a school. If other moms are sending their own kids there, it must be good, right? But not everyone feels that way. Perhaps you need to interview teachers and visit the school to learn more. Finding the right fit for your child is important! I know when I was picking a preschool for my oldest daughter location was a big factor, as well as flexible hours since I was working outside of the home. Finding a school that had flexible pick up hours was one of the most important factors I had to consider.
As a reading specialist in the public schools, I know what today’s expectations are for kindergarten learning. And kids who enter kindergarten come in with varying talents and abilities – we’ve got the kid who can read chapter books and the kid who has never picked up a crayon or a pair of scissors in their life. It really does run the gamut! Kindergarten teachers, bless them all – they deserve much more credit than they are ever given.
I’m a big fan of preschools that implement a reading curriculum that encompasses phonemic awareness (playing with sounds), phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Amanda Cohen, the director of Bright Horizons Early Education and Preschool in Foxboro, MA. I asked her what preschool reading instruction looked like at the center. Here’s what Amanda had to say:
“Our World at their Fingertips curriculum incorporates many components, one of them being Language Works. Language Works focuses on many things which includes pre-reading and reading. Our preschool programs (children ages 2.9 years old-4) learn to appreciate and enjoy high-quality children’s books, understand that printed words and symbols have meaning, recall and retell simple stories and identify letters and a few sight words. The teachers in these programs help with these skills by posting classroom signs and labels, have the children make their own class books, play letters games such as “Letter Match” and look at stories with common sight words. Our Kindergarten Prep children (Ages 4-5) incorporate many pre-reading skills in their curriculum day to day as well which includes Wiggle Works, a pre-reading program that is developed by Scholastic. Wiggle Works combines technology and leveled books to develop skills in reading, writing and language all which are necessary for future reading development success. The center even has a lending library of leveled books, a Smartboard for morning circle time and iSmart computers for building all of these important early reading skills.”
The center has a writing area, which is stocked with paper, pencils, crayons, markers, envelopes, sticky notes, sight word flash cards and journals. This is where kids can get creative and start practicing their writing skills. I also learned about their afternoon book clubs, which sound so fun! One recent activity involved covering up the book title and cover page so that the children had to create their own title and cover for the book that was read aloud! This is a fantastic activity to build comprehension skills and gets kids thinking about their reading!
In addition to a balanced literacy program for early learners, the center is also well-known for it’s strong home-school connection and dedication to families. Bright Horizons has an open door policy, which means you are welcome to stop in at any time. There are monthly parent meetings, which allow you to provide feedback on your child’s education and keep current with happenings at the center, journals that travel between home and school, webinars around topics like reading readiness, potty training, picky eating and parent-teacher conferences two times per year. You can even volunteer to be a Mystery Reader throughout the year and sign up to read a book to your child’s class.
If you’d like to learn more about the preschool options at Bright Horizons, they will soon be holding a Kindergarten Prep and Preschool Showcase event at local centers in our area. You’ll be able to meet the teachers, hear from a parent panel and ask questions about preparing children for kindergarten success. It promises to be an informative night!
So how did you decide where to send your child? Were you happy with your choice? Are you currently looking for a preschool that will meet your child’s needs?