Preschools and Nursery Schools may be licensed and regulated by New York State, although this is not required if the program is less than 3 hours per day. Preschools are generally a good child care option for parents who are looking for a social and learning environment for their child on a morning or afternoon schedule. Preschools enroll children aged two years nine months to five years of age. Groups of children are divided by age and developmental needs. They usually run on a school-year calendar. Some programs may require that the child be toilet trained. There are various types of preschool programs available, from a traditional program to a program that follows a Montessori or Reggio Emilia approach. Knowing your child and her needs will help you to determine what type of preschool environment will suit her best.
Types of Programs
Traditional preschools tend to focus on social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth. Many full-day child care centers have a traditional type of preschool program in their morning schedule. The program usually incorporates a mixture of learning activities, some teacher directed, and some child directed. There is a daily schedule, and the teachers base the curriculum on standard early childhood educational concepts.
This program is based on an educational philosophy developed by Maria Montessori. Generally, the program is focused on the individual child, using "tools" as learning materials. Children move from one task to another at their own pace, and teachers do not directly "teach" children, but rather show children how to use the "tools". Emphasis is on the relationship between the child and the materials themselves. Montessori programs tend to be very structured, individualized programs. Montessori practices will vary according to particular programs.
Developed in Italy, this type of preschool program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment. The curriculum is based on the interests of the children. Children are viewed as social beings. Focus is on the child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers and the community.