Every decision we make as parents can feel monumental… and our access to wide (and sometimes contradicting) information is ready and overwhelming! With a culture that increasingly values Early Education experiences and as parents who are increasingly choosing Early Education over babysitters, where do you begin sifting through and making this important decision?
There are a few guiding principles to start with:
- This is not a test. Or an experiment. There are some very modern, very unusual or specialized practices out there that may not have enough history to be trustworthy. Go with your gut: does this feel right… does it feel safe and fun and warm?
- Trust (some) expert opinions. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), for instance, is an organization that “vouches” for certain styles of early learning with their long history and credentialed experts. Check who a school is associated with or accredited by as a standard of trustworthiness.
So, let’s break it down. Amidst “Montessori v. Reggio Emilia v. Academic v. Progressive” your head might be spinning with all of the labels and what they mean.
Linda Whitehead, vice president of education and development for Bright Horizons, simplified it like this: “There are a number of early childhood philosophies, but they tend to fall into two broad categories in [the United States]. The first philosophy is learning through discovery, which includes programs with a focus on child-directed activities. Teachers serve as guides and plan activities based on children’s developmental levels. The second philosophy centers on programs that are more academically based, and typically include drill and practice components.”*
The best way to make this huge decision is to tour schools and look around:
- What is on the walls? Does it look like a teacher did it or a 3 year old? Do you see 24 of the same penguin… or 24 totally different pieces of art?
- How are the classrooms set up? Does it look like the room is set up for children to sit and learn or are there a variety of open spaces for exploration?
- What kind of learning devices do you see? What kind of toys do you see and does it look like the children have easy access to them?
Studies have shown that young children learn best through open-ended play. At Creative World Schools, we believe in the unlimited potential of each young learner! Children who are allowed to drive their own learning journey become lifelong learners. So, get your child off on the right start! If there’s a Creative World School location near you, come start your learning journey with us.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWPSYUd3dWk&w=560&h=315]