31 January 2007

Hippie Daycare vs. Structured Preschool with Worksheets

Last week, City Mama had a post about her four year old daughter transitioning to a new preschool, and coming home on the first day to announce that she hated the school. Because they didn’t get to play. But really because they had to do a worksheet. City Mama went on to talk about the prior “hippie” preschools that her kid had been to, with no worksheets. The comments on the post had a lot of interesting stuff about hippie preschools and worksheets and structure and play and what’s appropriate for a little one.

It got me thinking about my child’s daycare. It certainly swings towards the hippie end of things. It’s a formal daycare center, for kids from 18 months to 5 years old. It kind of transitions into preschool – the kids can stay there until they go to kindergarten. They get a lot of learning done there – but it’s all in the interstices, nothing overt. They read books, sing songs, dance, play dress-up, play with plastic bugs, feed the fish, play outside, help with snack and lunch, paint, play with clay, learn to share, to interact, to empathize and sympathize, etc. It’s a wonderful, warm and caring environment, and I feel very lucky that we found it.

One of the people who commented on City Mama’s post, Twizzle at Baboon of Magnesia, included a link to a great article called The Worksheet Dilemma: Benefits of Play-Based Curricula. The subhead kind of says it all. The gist of the article is that kids, up to about age 6 (i.e. kindergarten), need to work with concrete things rather than abstract symbols – they’re just not ready to sit down with a worksheet. Kids need to play.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting topic, and I agree - kids need to play. The play is HOW they learn. I was very fortunate to find great daycares for my kids, in two different states. I didn't know what I was looking for, but I instinctively chose the daycare center that was small, had a family feel to it, but was not someone's home. (I had issues with the home daycares where the caregivers would openly admit to having television be a scheduled part of their day. And too many scary stories of abuse in those homes where there were no other adults to watch what was going on.) As it turns out, these centers I stumbled upon were wonderful places for my kids. They played, indoors and out, they went on field trips, they were hugged and fed and loved. I will forever swear that the reason both of my kids are so bright, and had such easy transitions to regular school, is because of the "learning" and love they got at their daycare. That daycare was a better parent to my kids than I ever could have been. All without a single worksheet.

Mandajuice said...

I picked Alex's preschool because a) it was the cheapest and b) it had the biggest playground. It's basically a place for him to interact with other kids and learn to take directions from someone other than me and his dad. I do want to send him someplace more academic when we move, but not until he's four.