If you have a home daycare, you're almost certainly familiar with the varied personalities and learning styles of preschool-aged children. If your children are primarily between ages 3 and 6, you may be considering adding some structured curriculum to their day to help prepare them for formal education. However, the sheer number and variety of available programs can be overwhelming. Read on to learn more about some of the most popular types of preschool curriculum for home-based daycares, as well as which specific types of instruction benefit each child's unique learning style.
This curriculum, based on the philosophy of Italian child development expert Maria Montessori, focuses on learning through guided play and experimentation. Children are somewhat self-guided, and much focus is placed on cause and effect ("What happens when we pour this water through a funnel?") and sensory perception ("What does this sand feel like when wet? When dry?")
Montessori curriculum is ideal for children with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or autism, as well as children of varying age groups. Most Montessori classrooms are sorted by ability, rather than age, so children who may be a bit developmentally behind their peers will not feel slighted or suffer low self-esteem simply because they are working with younger children.
The High Scope method of learning involves organization and "active learning." Unlike Montessori education, which is relatively unstructured and focuses on free play and experimentation more than the "three Rs," High Scope is an organized, academically-focused type of education that helps prepare children for the more formal elementary system.
Most children thrive on routine and regularity, so the High Scope method can be adapted to work with nearly all children. However, this method is ideal for children who demonstrate organizational skills and gravitate toward quiet time rather than those who may be dealing with attention deficit or other processing disorders.
This educational philosophy is highly math-centered and encourages children to view all interactions through a framework of logic. Kamii-Devries is also focused on physical activity and believes that encouraging active play helps the brain learn more effectively. A morning in the Kamii-Devries classroom might begin with a footrace during which the participants are timed or make an attempt to count their own steps or guess how long it will take them to get from one point to another, then conclude with a building blocks competition.
If your preschool-aged charges are high-energy and love to build and problem-solve, this method will likely see great success. Not only does it help to direct excess energy into play, it can help children see logical and mathematical theories throughout the world they observe. If one or more of the children you watch has physical disabilities that make such rough or active play difficult, you may want to choose another method.
This is one of the more traditional types of curriculum and focuses on question-and-answer sessions of up to 90 minutes devoted to a specific subject. The teacher is an active participant and directs the day's activities, unlike the Montessori method which is more child-led. Children may spend 30 minutes on alphabet identification or spelling, then 30 minutes on simple math problems, then 30 minutes on science or geography.
Direct instruction is best for older or more mature children who have the attention span to sit still and focus on a single task for a relatively long period of time. Direct instruction has also proved especially useful in teaching foreign languages to young children. Because most public schools still heavily subscribe to the direct instruction method, this teaching philosophy is likely the best way to prepare a child for the transition to kindergarten.
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