Lately, I have had many experiences that have led me to write this post. I never thought I would be this blatant about what needs to be happening in a daycare or preschool, but despite knowing all that I know about the current state of education I was still flabbergasted by some of the things I have seen going on in many schools. I think it is important for us to all be knowledgeable and to know what we are seeking in quality childcare. We are the consumers, especially at the daycare and preschool level. We are paying other people to care for our children and that gives us the upper hand. We get to choose what we want with our dollars. If anything, there needs to be more communication between parents and educators to ensure that students are receiving the care they need.
The main problem I have noticed is that it is easy for people to say that they are using developmentally appropriate practices. Somehow, many people have found the lingo to use to entice parents. We are Montessori inspired or Reggio Emilia inspired, they say. We believe that children learn through play they say. Parents have heard these buzz words too and believe them to mean something good as well. My child will thrive in this school they think. But, oh how we have been duped!
I have visited schools that made these claims. Yet, saw nothing of the sort. Rather than children playing and having a free choice time with involved adults around them to engage when necessary and to be there to guide them as they need, all I saw was a day of jam packed activities with no rest in sight. Kids begin the day with a 25 minute circle time. It does not matter that they are only 2 and 3 years old and are no where near comprehending any of the calendar material. They do it because it looks good. Because it has always been done that way or seems preschool. Meanwhile, the students don't have the attention span to sit for that long, are moving about, and keep being scolded and told to "sit." Then they have to listen to the teacher give a drawing lesson. Then they are rushed to snack time. Then the kids must draw based on the drawing lesson given. Now it is paint time. Now it is time to line up so they can go to the playground where they are told they have to walk and not run. By this point the kids have been sitting from activity to activity for about an hour and a half. Yet, when it is finally there time for recess, time to do the things kids do, they are told they are not allowed to run? Kids are too crazy and are not being "productive" so they are punished and told to sit down. Then they are lined up to go back to the classroom to do a playdough activity. Then they have to play Simon Says for 25 minutes. Then rushed to the cafeteria area where they can eat their lunch, but only have 15 minutes to eat.
What is this? Can we not all see the lunacy? Why? Why are kids being asked to do all of these things at only 2 and 3 years old when they are still learning gross motor skills, proprioceptive skills, to talk efficiently, etc. If these are the things that are important for them to master, then it should be a given that they should be allowed to run, climb, hop, etc. It should be a given that they would be in an environment where they are allowed to talk instead of being told to "sit" and "listen" all day long. Kids need time to engage with an activity. If they keep being transitioned from one thing to another they will eventually learn to not even bother because soon it will be taken away from them anyway.
I am a visual person. I like details. Because these buzz words are being thrown around, I uploaded a video of the type of things that a good preschool would be doing with the children in their setting. If you do not see these centers and better yet if you do not see the children being allowed to use these centers at their will, please don't walk, RUN the other way. If the children do have these centers, but you do not see the adults observing and being present with the children, RUN the other way. And for good measure, tell the centers why you are choosing to run the other way. Let us all walk away from this so that they may seek better ways to take care of the children in their service. Money talks. Leave. For the sake of the children. In these centers, I see children that are not happy. I see children that are not engaged. They cannot cope with constantly being in transition and frustrate easily and cry throughout their day. They do not understand why they are being told they cannot do things that come naturally to them. Things that help them explore and make sense of their world. I see children who are not as curious or as creative as their counterparts who are in a developmentally appropriate environment. Please, let us all run the other way.
August 14 2016