Do all children benefit from the program at Our School?
The objectives, and practice, curriculum approaches are tailored to each individual child’s development and present needs. Therefore, any child can benefit from attending Our School. Read more about our philosophy.
Why does Our School offer a half-day program for children?
We have found that a 3-3 ½ hour period of attendance allows children of this age enough time for transitions and to engage themselves fully in an educational context without undue fatigue. Keeping to this time frame avoids stressful situations for young children and allows us to provide an educational experience without compromising their psychological well-being.
What is your approach to disciplining preschool children?
The staff at Our School anticipate the challenges unique to a preschoolers’ social development and stress prevention of conflict. Teachers help children change undesirable, learned interactions by substituting positive interactions. If a conflict is not preventable, be it mild or severe, it is fully resolved according to the child’s maturity and experience. The teacher becomes an intermediary until children have learned the positive skills for resolving problems on their own with arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. If necessary, teachers calm things down but do not take sides. They listen, echo children’s concerns without judgment, clarify issues, and have them seek appropriate solutions. The goal is repair, healing, mutual respect, and reconciliation – lifelong skills of peaceful, equitable resolution.
By taking this approach, we at Our School do not have to engage in the usual forms of discipline and punishment. Children are not put in “time out” where they may feel quarantined for displeasing adults. We do not “sermonize” the children as they become “deaf.” We do not dole out rewards for good behaviors because it becomes a bargaining tool for desired material items or food. All of these external strategies relieve adults of a nuisance in the short term, but they motivate children with fear or desire for rewards. In the long run, these strategies defeat the goal of a child integrating genuine attitudes of self-control, self-discipline, and care for others.
Your materials are similar to a Montessori environment and the displays of children’s interests on the walls are very similar to the Reggio Emilia approach. How is your curriculum different from these two approaches?
Some of the classroom materials and displays may resemble the Montessori and Reggio Emilia educational approaches, but closer examination reveals large differences. At Our School Preschool the curriculum is inspired by a myriad of thinkers regarding education and children. These various perspectives are distilled into a methodology that recognizes the legitimacy of play as education, the necessity of understanding subject matter and teacher intervention, the need to understand child development and the means to support families as they grow in their understanding of children and education.
What is the cost of Our School Preschool compared with other preschools in the area?
We recognize that the costs associated with quality preschool education (such as professional staff, a wealth of varied material, and professional upkeep in the form of continued schooling and teacher benefits) may not always be readily apparent to families. We encourage prospective families to examine our budget and compare it with other environments in order to be reassured that our costs reflect a realistic commitment to provide high-quality education to young children.
Do children get overwhelmed by all the materials at the school?
Young children cannot abstractly classify materials like adults do. Our School teachers do classify, on shelves or floors, materials and supplies according to categories that makes sense to young children. It could be by shapes, colors or relationships. The organization follows the children’s senses of vision and touch. For instance, blocks are organized in multiplying units – from square to rectangle, double rectangle, triple and, finally, quadruple. Art supplies are sorted and classified by mediums such as printed/plain paper/cloth, various colors and hues, metal/plastic/cardboard and even wood. Children benefit from this variety by experimenting and learning to see relationships of colors, shapes, or materials.
My child is “so shy”. How will he do in this group situation?
The teachers avoid using the word “shy” to describe a child because it implies that there is something defective about a child who is cautious or retiring by nature. Reserved or cautious children are often very good observers, as it takes them time to initiate contact. Most importantly, children who hear this label often enough may fulfill it by becoming automatically cautious or retiring, especially if they feel pressured to be engaged. This situation is observed and handled by the teachers according to the needs of individual students.
I think I have a “hyper” child. How is he going to fit in?
It is important to distinguish between a child diagnosed with “ADHD” and a child who is simply very active. Children come in a variety of activity levels and most need to have a high level of physical activity. Even children with a slower tempo of physical development still need to integrate their different senses so that environmental distractions do not detract them from attending to their present interest. Some are too rushed by adult environments and schedules and get overwhelmed. When children are overexposed to sedentary activities (like sitting in front of a TV or computer) and don’t get enough physical activity, this can cause a delayed reaction in which their movements become erratic or aggressive.
Our teachers consult with parents to get information about a child’s routine, transitions, and types of activities. They observe the child’s physical movement, interactions with obstacles in space, running, climbing, and balance in a variety of situations and develop with parents an understanding of that child’s physical abilities and needs. When a child’s activity level seems to be elevated beyond environmental and developmental influences, we advise that the child be diagnosed by outside experts.
What if my child refuses to come to school?
Preschoolers often have difficulty expressing why s/he may not want to attend school. Children of this age are reactive and cannot reflect or analyze their situation as effectively as adults can. Before you register your child in any setting, we strongly recommend visiting a full session. Parents must have their questions answered fully so that they feel confident that the environment is safe and respects children’s individuality and needs. When parents feel confident about the school, they can demonstrate and communicate this confidence to their children. Once this baseline of trust is established, the teachers will help you and your child with the usual issues:
- Separation anxiety (which can come and go)
- Difficulty after an absence
- Overcoming a social obstacle at school
- Changes in routine outside of school (visitors, sickness, new baby, going to bed late, etc.)
- Coming down with an illness
If the child’s health is fine, we encourage you to bring the child to school. Do not pressure the child about eating breakfast or getting dressed. Hurrying children before a session will only make parents and children tense. However, you may want to inform the teachers and they will help if needed.
Beside contact hours during the sessions, how do the teacher-directors prepare and what are their responsibilities?
Teacher-directors are also members of this cooperative. Their responsibilities include:
- Planning and setting up for every session
- Daily review of sessions and assessments of each child
- Helping the co-oping parent in cleaning after each session
- Answering phone inquiries after each session
- Planning, preparing and giving workshop/seminars and class session meetings
- Keeping up with studies and research relating to child development and related matters
- Preparing and giving parents’ conferences about their children
- Going to home visits for new children
- Advising parents on an as-needed basis
- Administrative work (forms, finances, library, purchases, etc.)
- Serving on the Board of Directors
- Serving on our fundraising committees
- Attending school socials
What is required for families in this cooperative?
For good daily functioning of the school, the preservation of our school’s programs and its financial stability, we have some basic requirements:
- Serving in your child’s session when scheduled (about once a month)
- Helping on our workday (usually a Saturday or Sunday in August, 3 hours per family)
- Participating in your child’s spring conference
There are also additional opportunities to share your interests and talents by volunteering in administrative or upkeep areas.