Developmentally Appropriate Preschool
There are several different philosophies to consider when choosing a preschool program for your tot. Preschool can be a wonderful, exciting time, but it's important to understand your child's development and personality in order to make the right choice. Remember the goal of preschool is to develop readiness skills so that your child will succeed when entering kindergarten.
Preschool is not a formal academic program, but a time to allow your child to learn by exploring, playing, and experimenting with objects. Children at this age learn through direct sensory activities. So, when making the decision it's important to understand the goals and philosophy behind the different types of preschool programs.
This the most common type of preschool philosophy in the United States. A developmentally appropriate program tends to emphasize the different areas of a preschooler's development, which are physical, cognitive, emotional, and social. The classroom is set up with a "hands-on" approach.
In this type of program there is a mixture of both self-directed and teacher directed activities. The teacher may have a curriculum or activities that fit the child's age and level of development however, the child may lead the play and the teacher will join in. For example, a child may show an interest in the kitchen area and the teacher will take that opportunity to talk about cooking or mealtime.
There is usually a schedule that is followed each day, but may be looser in the morning with "free play" and later may be more structured with circle time or a group activity. These types of programs usually shy away from activities that seem strictly academic and believe that structure isn't the best way for a preschool child to learn.