From Montessori to High/Scope, here's what you need to know about finding the right fit for your little one
Laurie Sheehan of Burnaby, BC, didn’t think she needed to spend a lot of time researching preschools for her three-year-old son, Simon. “The neighbourhood preschool seemed fine,” she says. But soon it was obvious the boisterous, play-focused program wasn’t bringing out the best in her son. “He’s not a big fan of crowds or rowdy play. He didn’t want to go to school,” Sheehan recalls.
So she shopped around and found a spot at a preschool with fewer children, a more structured environment and a teacher sensitive to Simon’s needs. Although getting to and from the new school added time to Sheehan’s commute, she says the move was worthwhile: “Simon just bloomed in that environment.”
Different from daycare, which is designed to provide full-day and year-round care and learning for young children whose parents are at work, preschool (sometimes called nursery school) is often a stay-at-home kid’s first taste of structured learning. And depending on where you live, there may be several preschool programs to choose from, each varying not only in what they teach but also in how they teach. Some have large blocks of free playtime with a very short “circle time” for group learning each day; some have no group learning times at all. Others are more structured, with lengthy “learning circles,” where children sit and listen for extended periods of time — stimulating for some, but utter torture for others.
This guide to some of the most popular types of preschools will help you choose one that works with your child’s personality and learning style.