Best Preschool Curriculum...

Updated on February 01, 2010
L.O. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
6 answers

I am beginning to look for preschools for the next school year. I am not thrilled with our current preschool.. They use "creative curriculum" Is this a good preschool curriculum? Is there a better curriculum out there.? ARe there any preschool teacher moms out there who have great information about preschool curriculum??

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answers from Detroit on

I am a preschool teacher mom. The two MAIN curriculums that I learned about in college were the creative curriculum and the high scope curriculum. They are both good curriculums when practiced appropriately ( this would be the teacher's job).
If you aren't satisfied with your current program, please do some preschool shopping before the end of the school year. Go in for a classroom visit to observe a session before chosing another program.
My son attends the Troy Co-op Preschool and I love it!



answers from Detroit on

My son goes to Bussey Center which is a headstart preschool that is part of Southfield Public Schools. They are accredited by the NAEYC. They use the high/scope curriculum which concentrates not only on academics but also social skills such as communication, group play, self regulation etc
I love the progress he has made at this pre-school in all areas of his development.



answers from Saginaw on

Two days a week, my son goes to a small day care that is also a qualified head start preschool. Not sure how to explain it but it is very much like the regular preschool that he goes to three days a week. Anyway...

This day care uses creative curriculum, and the two teachers both have a lot of experience and ongoing training with it. It is my understanding that it is mostly a way of learning respect, how to express yourself, how to handle your feelings and others' feelings... I didn't think it was an academic thing, more of a behavior management thing. I have heard it compared to Love & Logic in that sense. I love hearing how the teachers talk to the kids and how problems are solved, whether it is just one child or between children.

I could be wrong about the focus of creative curriculum; I didn't choose this day care for that reason, although I had heard a lot of good things about creative curriculum from the local community service agencies when I was on a parent advisory board (my son has some special needs). My focus for my son has been more on how to integrate him into a classroom with other kids (his needs are relatively minor but did impact his play, more in the past than now). So I haven't looked extensively into different preschool curriculums.

My son did go to Montessori preschool 3 days a week for a year; this year he is going to the public school instead (he is 3 1/2). Montessori just seemed kind of cold, like another mom mentioned. We would have continued him there because we believe in the philosophy, but the one teacher he made a connection with left, and with his other challenges... we went to the local elementary school somewhat reluctantly but after 5 months like it much better than the Montessori. I think this was an AMS Montessori. He seems to be learning so much more at his new school, although that could just be his age and that he has made a lot of progress overcoming his delays in the last 9 months.

Hope this helps, even a little bit - good luck! If you are not thrilled, go with your mom instinct and look for something awesome!



answers from Dallas on

I worked at 4 schools for 23 years. The most sucessful curriculum was modified ABEKA, three year olds were reading! What I mean by modified was the creativity is lacking, so what I did was deisgn creative crafts and manipulatives that supported the curriculum.



answers from Minneapolis on

I believe VERY strongly in Montessori education.

I don't know exactly where Sterling Heights, MI is, but when I look at AMI Montessori schools in Michigan, I only see two. White Pine Montessori Children's Center in Mount Pleasant, and Petoskey Montessori Children's House in Petoskey.

There is a divide in the Montessori community. I fall into the AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) camp - the more traditional of the two. To be a recognized AMI school, you must go through an accreditation process and adhere to the original ideas of Maria Montessori. The other camp is AMS (American Montessori Society). AMS schools can also be fabulous - but I don't think that they're consistently as good as AMI schools. AMS schools are generally more like other preschools you may be familiar with. You may very well be able to find a fabulous AMS school in Sterling Heights.
You may be able to find one at this website:
I would look for an accredited AMS school over another school with the name "Montessori" on it. Interestingly, the name Montessori was never trademarked, so any school can slap the name on their school, regardless of whether or not they incorporate *any* of Maria Montessori's ideas. So, make sure you do your research and ask about accreditation.

In my opinion, there are several really amazing benefits of a Montessori education:

1) Children learn to self-regulate and to choose appropriate work. This means that a child who has been in a Montessori program enters into life understanding his strengths better while also being much more self-reflective about his work. From a cognitive perspective, this is one of the hallmarks of an effective learner.

2) Children are encouraged to be independent thinkers and are treated with the same respect that we as adults would like. This means that they are not coddled, though they are supported through their development in an appropriate way. I frequently hear from friends, neighbors, and strangers, that my daughter (who is now 7) carries herself with dignity and confidence, that she is interested in and capable of having confident discussions with adults, and that she is much more mature and polite than many other children her age. (You'll have to trust me that very little of this is due to my parenting! :)) She recently learned how to use a phone book so that she could call and talk to experts when she was writing a report.

3) Montessori allows students to choose work (academic, social, and physical) that is challenging to them. It also allows students to work at their level for as long as they need or want. If a student wants to go deeper, Montessori classrooms allow for that. If a student wants to repeat something 1,000 times, Montessori classrooms allow for that, too. The key here is making sure that you have a qualified AMI-certified Montessori teacher who will help guide your child and direct him to choose appropriate, challenging, and diverse (balanced) work.
What’s more, Montessori classrooms allow children to approach the “required” material from many different angles, allowing them to get a full sense of what their topic or work means.

On a related note, Montessori education encourages and promotes mastery of subjects, rather than simply surface skimming. From Children’s House through Junior High, we look for students to work toward mastery of the appropriate skills.

4) Children tend to read earlier and more fluently and to have higher math scores (and what’s more important to me as a science and math teacher) higher comprehension of and appreciation for math than other children. My daughter was slow to read in her Montessori Children’s House classroom and as her parent I worried about it though as a teacher, I recognized that everything was fine. She is now (in second grade) reading the fourth Harry Potter book, as well as A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. She reads, on average, a novel a week. She is a pretty average student, but she is also doing multiple digit multiplication and division – and what’s more, she understands them more than the students in 4th and 5th grade that I worked with in the public schools.

5) Montessori schools allow for freedom of movement. Throughout the entire cycle, students are allowed to move freely and to choose where to position themselves in the classroom and environment. This gives children a real sense of control and confidence. It also cuts down on many behavior issues because a child isn’t “stuck” in one space for a set amount of time.

6) Montessori schools promote social responsibility and global awareness. Montessori schools encourage respect and compassion in children, for people who are near to them, as well as those that are on the other side of the globe. Students in Montessori schools are often very active in their communities. Whether it be organizing a fund-raiser to send money to victims of hurricanes, tsunamis, or tornadoes, or researching and reporting on endangered animals, to becoming active in the local political environment, to volunteering in many various capacities – students in Montessori schools are keenly aware of their potential impact for doing good in the world. Montessori schools actively teach and promote environmental awareness, stewardship of the environment, and active work to think globally but act locally. Montessori schools work hard to promote peaceful understanding among young children, and to broaden this to a local perspective and further to a global perspective throughout a child’s Montessori career. Montessori schools teach that peace is a positive thing worth working toward and provide students strategies to employ as they work to create peace.

7) Hands-on materials for most subjects. The Montessori method has been around for 100 years, and yet educational research is only just now catching up to the things that Maria Montessori said in the early 1900s. As I read educational research papers, I often find myself thinking about some corollary in the Montessori classrooms for their “new” idea. The most prevalent of these are the manipulatives that a child engages with. These manipulatives not only help students make sense of the concept, they stay with a child from age 3 to age 6 so that a child can refer back to them, can go back and touch them and move them as they need to revisit concepts, and so that they can extend their understanding with the same materials for more advanced concepts. In this way, ideas build on one another. They are not abstract, independent objects, but rather part of an interconnected whole.

This goes beyond the usual lip-service paid to these attributes. They are embodied in a Montessori education in ways big and small. Students really do tend to absorb these values of peace, responsibility, respect, and compassion and to learn how to act on these values.

Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

I too am a preschool teacher. I did not use a published curriculum. I would combine a play based curriculum with academics. It is funny that when asked to switch to a play based curriculum only, I found in a decline in my students ability to write their own name, reading, as well as other concepts. Now you must understand that academics should not require mastery at this age, just lots of exposure. Kids will get it when it is age and physically appropriate. Also, Montessori, in my opinion, is kind of a cold experience. There is not hugging and sitting on the teacher's lap. And if your child is not continuing through the years at a Montessori school, then it is confusing and culturally shocking. If you have the time, a cooperative preschool is a wonderful experience for both you and the child. But it does require lots of your time as a parent.

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