The difference between Preschool and Prekindergarten
Since I opened my doors in 2012, I have tried to maintain a part day preschool/prekindergarten program. I feel very strongly about creating a program that helps in a small way to close the achievement gap. I say small way, because where ever I end up, I am going to stay a small program that will be embedded into the neighborhood. In my head, I become a neighborhood staple that is well known within the community. It may seem like a weird thing to dream when it comes to my business, I understand that, I also know that after spending my entire life moving around and never being embedded in a community, I crave it. I want to provide a service that benefits and enriches the area in which I live.
I have had parents ask me to explain the difference between preschool and prekindergarten. The reason for that is because I run my program different for those two different classes. I wanted to make sure that the type of education offered between the two programs was appropriate for the children that were enrolled. So for this blog post I am going to explain what the differences are in the two programs and I will show examples of how I address children’s individual goals.
My preschool program is for ages 2-3. The preschool program is a learn through play program. This means that the activities that I pick for the day are hands on and usually child led. I may set the activities out, but they work at their own pace with them. I want them to feel comfortable in taking charge of their own education.
I encourage independence and thinking for themselves. This helps them learn how to use their imagination and inspires their dramatic play. An example of this would the theme of the month from Experience Early Learning with Mother Goose Time. We have been doing community helpers. In order to fully lean into the community helpers theme, I have set up a fire station wall with a building for the children to use the fire truck. They have been rolling the fire truck right up to the house made from a tri-fold science board and sending the fireman figure up to the top to put out the fire that is raging in the pretend house.
Another way I encourage independence and provide a learn through play environment, is with outdoor play. I provide them with loose parts in the outdoor area. Loose parts are various bits and pieces that do not particularly go together. This is amazing because the children can dive completely into the play and come up with everything without my preconceived notions of their play interfering.
This does not mean I am not teaching or leading my classroom. It does mean that I foster and facilitate early independence and we work on learning letters, numbers and shapes while they are playing. Through circle time activities, individual time that takes place during. free play in 2-5-minute increments. The individual time for this age group is not something that involves them sitting at the table to color or write. It’s 2-5 minutes of teacher directed and focused attention.
Prekindergarten is ages 4-5 and sometimes depending on abilities and maturity, I will take older 3-year olds. For this class I still use the themes that are in the Experience Early Learning curriculum, but I tend to mix in other curriculum such as Starfalls and Handwriting Without Tears. Since this is the year before Kindergarten, I want to make sure I have an accurate picture of the skills that the children have and like to make sure I can use a curriculum to address their needs. It is a benefit from working for myself, that I can be more responsive and flexible in my response to the learning styles of the children in my classrooms.
With Pre-k I am making sure that the children understand how to be independent when it comes to going to the bathroom, following directions and doing work independently. Most of the learning takes place within a learn through play environment but there are more instances of intentional teacher directed learning. I move at the pace of each individual student. Which I am able to do because I have a small classroom. The benefits of a family childcare home is that I am able to spend more time on each child and cater their learning experience to them specifically. This leads to better outcomes and encourages them to ask me for more things they would like to learn about.
If you have any questions or suggestions about how I run a preschool/prek program from home please feel free to comment, share or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Live Long and Keep Teaching!