Like most moms, I have done many things in life; studied, traveled, worked, got married and had a family. And to be honest, I thought that by having a family late in life I was more ready for all these affairs of being a mother, but I was wrong. One of the biggest challenges I had to face was to find a preschool for my 15 month old son.
I believed that choosing a school was a matter of doing some research with my friends, then online and finally visit the preschools. But contrary to what I had imagined, the more I asked and read about schools, the more challenging my quest turned out. First, the list of requirements I wanted from a preschool was getting longer and longer. Second, most of the schools I visited offered basically the same and third to my surprise, the curriculums were not really designed for the needs and challenges our children may face in this century. So, How do I choose the best preschool for my child?.
My list of requirements included a happy, safe and nurturing environment, a clean and friendly place with degreed teachers. In addition, a school with a strong curriculum, that will be flexible enough to challenge my child but let him be himself. Also, I was looking for an education that would be in sync with my beliefs, and last but not least; since I am not sure what is coming into my son’s future, I wanted a preschool that could offer him the tools and the base to deal with challenging situations in life.
I visited many schools. They were clean and nice, teachers were degreed and the environment looked very nurturing and friendly. In fact, all basic things that we as mothers look for in a preschool were covered. However, the more I inquired about the curriculums the more confused I was. The range went from daycares where children were having tons of fun but lacking an established program for their intellectual and social development, to preschools where children discover their own concepts from self-teaching materials.
It was a tough decision. In addition, everybody that surrounded me thought I was too demanding, claiming that a little boy would not know the difference. However, I am very proud that I had persisted in my quest, because finally I found what I was looking for. A preschool that followed an integrated curriculum designed for the twenty first Century, that encompasses not only the intellectual side, but also the behaviors and values needed for children in our current society. A place with a happy, fun, safe and nurturing environment, and with a group of loving degreed teachers that have been trained in the Visible Thinking approach from Harvard University.
I now admit that the curriculum combined with the concept of the Visible Thinking was very attractive but I was not fully aware of the total picture. Nevertheless, once I begun to participate at the parents meetings where the curriculum and the methodology was explained, I started to have these amazing “aha moments”. I started to understand the depth of the program and the Visible Thinking model and to apply them to our daily life. In fact, this learning method has helped me to make my communication with my son easier and not limit his thinking but instead promote it. It has helped me choose appropriate toys, games, and TV programs that teaches him new concepts and encourages his critical and analytical thinking.
Now, my son is three and a half years old, and it is great to see how he has started to play and use some of the concepts and thinking routines he has learned at the school. I have noticed that he is very good at using connections to relate what he sees or hears with previously acquired knowledge. In fact, I have seen him explaining to my 11 month old daughter simple concepts using connections. Also, when we look at books, I have become aware that he tends to explain to me the difference of what he sees, from what he thinks of a specific page. In addition, he has begun to identify similarities and differences on what he sees in the books.
Even more fascinating, is when he explains to me what he is thinking. Yesterday for example, he said to me, “Mom, do you know what is a kiss?”, and he continued “a kiss is a piece of the heart”. Then, I asked him “how do you know a kiss is a piece of the heart?” to what he responded “when you give a kiss you feel happy and the heart turns red, and when you are sad your heart turns black.” Wow! When I hear him describing ideas like this one, is when I can really “visualize” the incredible process that is behind his thinking.
For me as a parent this experience with the preschool has been beyond my expectations. I found a place that it is not only for my child but also for my family, for me as a parent, for me as a mother with lots of questions, doubts and challenges on how to raise my child. This preschool is really a place that thinks beyond the traditional childcare concept, not just because it has a remarkable innovative educational approach, but because they really understand my needs!
Before, I used to depend on books or online communities to find answers to the struggles and daily challenges: discipline, modifying children’s behaviors, setting routines, potty training and many more. Now, I actively participate at the parental guidance lectures, or “coffee morning meetings” as the preschool calls them, which have helped me in the process of managing and understanding my child’s development. It is like having a living manual, a permanent guidance on raising my child. I just love those meetings, the real open doors and the ongoing feedback from the teachers and the director.
And finally, the plus of having free baby sitting three nights a month, is just perfect! I have been able to have a little space and time for me and my husband. My son feels very comfortable staying at his school with teaches he knows, and we as a couple have been able to enjoy, once again, the cinema or a nice dinner.
It was a long quest, but it was worthwhile. Now, my second child will start at this preschool very soon and I am confident, that like her brother, she would have a wonderful experience. If you, like me, want the best education for your children, and are making this your quest. Don’t give up! There are preschools that can really make a difference in your child’s education and in you as parents!
For more information on this and related topics, you can visit the following web pages: Video, Other articles, visible thinking, Weston-(954) 888-9775, (954) 598-9800, Pembroke Pines-(954) 450-0900, Tamarac-(954) 653-1570.