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Choosing The Right Preschool

23 Aug Choosing The Right Preschool

Just as parents face an overabundance of parenting styles; from helicopter on one end, to free-range on the other, there are also varying educational philosophies to consider when looking at preschools. Montclare Children’s School is a Teacher-Guided School.  Unsurprisingly, New York City is home to schools that embrace diverse educational philosophies such as Waldorf/Steiner, Montessori or Reggio Emilia. While each has its merits, at Montclare we believe that a Teacher-Guided approach provides young children with an optimal balance.

So what does it mean that Montclare is a “Teacher-Guided” school?  In essence being Teacher-Guided means that Montclare offers select elements of “Child-Centered” and “Teacher-Directed” methodologies, allowing teachers to adopt the role of facilitator, and guide.  Educators scaffold learning by providing resources and themes while observing and taking advantage of “teachable moments” which occur spontaneously throughout the school day.

“Children learn to think when adults take them seriously, engage them in meaningful conversations, inspire their imaginations and ask them questions that get them to think. This is exactly the approach that we need to incorporate into the classroom.” – The Hanen Center

In an enriched learning environment, children benefit from the guidance of experienced teachers who provide theme-based activities and a structure within which children may express themselves and be challenged in a secure and nurturing setting.

As should every developmentally-appropriate early childhood program, Montclare provides time for our students to engage in independent and imaginative play, both in the classrooms and in any of our gross-motor play areas (two gyms and rooftop-playspace).  However, as an institution of learning, our primary focus is on scaffolded or guided-play, helping children develop the skills they do not necessarily obtain through independent, free-play.

Critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, adaptability and analytical thinking are all developed predominantly through teacher guidance.  While these skills may ultimately be internalized and implemented during free-play, one of the teacher’s most important roles, at Montclare, is to “scaffold” learning, asking open ended questions, helping each child gain a deeper understanding of the lesson or theme at hand. Through teacher-guided activities, children become independent thinkers, acquiring and expanding their language skills so they may better express their own opinions and thoughts.

ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) writes that “The underlying idea for learning scaffolds is relatively old. Most people trace the concept to Lev Vygotsky believed that a learner’s developmental level consisted of two parts: the “actual developmental level” and the “potential developmental level.” The zone of proximal development, then, is “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers.”

As a Teacher-Guided school, Montclare provides a wide-variety of developmentally and age-appropriate enrichment including art, movement, music, library, gymnastics, yoga, field-trips and more.  These activities provide copious opportunities for children to experience learning through creativity, play and physical activity.

By the same token, we also strongly encourage our parents and caregivers to not over-schedule young children (Read More)! While Montclare offers afterschool enrichment classes, we advocate the necessity for unstructured time where children may freely engage in imaginative play.  After the school day and on weekends, children need time to run around the playground and engage in play with friends or siblings either at home or in the park.  If your child has a hard time getting started on his own, try providing a few options; a bin of blocks, paper and crayons or anything you think will spark his imagination. It isn’t necessary to jump in and “fix” your child’s boredom by providing instant entertainment.  Given the opportunity, your child will use her imagination and find ways to entertain herself.

Psychology Today writes, “In play, children practice many skills that are crucial for healthy development.  They practice physical and manual skills, intellectual skills, and social skills.

Choosing the right preschool for your child and for your family is an important decision.  We invite you to learn more about our Montclare and our Teacher-Guided approach at one of our Open Houses this fall.

Join us on September 21 from 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM RSVP for our parenting workshop – SOHO Parenting: Your Preschooler’s Schedule: How Much is Too Much?