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Competitive PreSchools – Characteristics of a Good PreSchool

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Preschool education has been pegged as a foundation to successful education and even success in adult life. But not all preschools are created equal, not even the most expensive ones. Here are characteristics and features a good preschool should have:

  • Clean and secure location. This is a non-negotiable for preschools. We are talking about kids younger than six years old who will be regularly attending classes. It is crucial that even on the way to school they feel secure. No health and safety hazards should be anywhere near the school. A good preschool should not only attend to the mental well-being of a child but also his or her physical well-being. Kids must be able to associate positive feelings and images with the school.
  • Complete and safe facilities. Setting up a room won’t be enough if we want quality public preschools. There are basic facilities kids need round the clock and facilities that are required to keep the school kid-friendly and hazard-free. Simply put, a preschool must have a toilet room, a sanitary area for eating, a separate area for trash, a clinic or medicine cabinet, a no-slip flooring and cabinets for toys and other materials. Furniture and any equipment must have no sharp edges. Electric outlets must have covers and anything else that pose harm to kids should be kept out of their reach and eyesight.
  • Feel-good atmosphere. A preschool should have an atmosphere welcoming to young children. It should not seem boring, rigorous or threatening. The classrooms should be well-ventilated and well-lit. Positive and colorful images and designs should be visible for kids. Staff and teachers should be helpful, friendly and accommodating. Kids must be able to see that they are going to have fun in class and that the school is a place where they can both play and learn.
  • Trained and caring teachers. It is no joke taking care of young kids, what more to teach them. A serious endeavor into preschool education must be accompanied with willingness to invest in teacher training or re-training. If kids are taught the wrong things in preschool, it defeats the entire purpose of the program. Preschool teachers must know how to teach the alphabet and counting, how to read stories and sing songs, how to motivate kids through games, and how to manage a class of young children. They must be caring and nurturing, and should never resort to coercion or physical punishment.
  • Low teacher-student ratio. Studies on the effects off preschool education on academic and life success all say the same thing regarding its potency. Preschool education cannot achieve its goal if it is of low quality, and a factor in quality is the teacher-student ratio. Ideally, one teacher should only handle seven to ten students. The maximum for each class is twenty. Sometimes, having teacher aides or assistants also helps in managing a large class. Young learners need a lot of supervision and personal interaction. If the government is serious with putting up public preschools, the current teacher-student ratio in public elementary schools should not be tolerated in the preschool level.
  • Holistic approach and curriculum. A preschool must not only prepare a child intellectually for entrance into the big school. It must also help children develop their other aspects. Preschool cannot be too focused on academic subjects. It must also address the development of social skills to prepare kids for a bigger group or class. As early as preschool, good qualities and values like self-confidence and love of country can already be introduced. Creativity and self-expression should also be a priority in the curriculum, keeping kids motivated and interested in schooling. In the words of Dr. Barbara Willer of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “Your 3- or 4-year-old will learn the fundamental building blocks of reading, writing, math, and science, as well as how to interact with teachers and classmates…[but] the overarching goal of any preschool should be to help a child feel good about himself as a learner and to feel comfortable in a school-like setting.”
  • Some structure or routine. What differentiates a preschool from a daycare center is that it has a more defined structure. A good preschool has a set schedule for activities, from writing lessons to play time to nap time. It also requires regular attendance-it is not mere babysitting. In the class, routine chores may be done to instill in kids a sense of capability and responsibility. These can be as simple as helping out in distributing materials or in tidying up the room. This structured quality of a preschool ascertains that the kids are not wasting time but are learning each day.
  • Variety of Instructional Materials. Kids need a lot of stimulation-their intellectual stimulation is highly dependent on sensory stimulation. A good preschool has to have a wide variety of instructional aides. Pictures, storybooks, recorded songs and models or realia are some of these. Kids are also very tactile learners. Manipulatives such as puzzles and peg-boards help kids develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination essential for writing and other tasks. Buttons or marbles are less expensive items which can be used for teaching counting. The idea is for children to have fun while learning.
  • Play area and materials. It is but natural for kids to play. Therefore, there should be an area or time for play. Aside from the usual toys, blocks should be available. These help develop spatial and problem-solving skills as well as creativity. Play can also come in the form of art (children love to draw). The school should never run out of paper, crayons and clay. The idea is for children to learn while having fun.
  • Physical activity. You heard it right! A good preschool is not afraid to get physical. Kids must have the opportunity-everyday-to move about and play, whether indoors or outdoors. This helps them practice their motor and other physical skills.
  • Language-sensitive, language-rich. Since kids will learn more about language-and learn a new one, at that-in preschool, they must be as exposed to it as possible. Whether the new language is Filipino or English, there should be materials available everywhere. Posters on the walls, labeled objects and storybooks should be staples in class. On the other hand, the preschool must also be sensitive to the community’s mother tongue. Many countries have multi-lingual education, and preschools must care not to ban children from using their mother tongue. Moreover, teachers should not hesitate to use the mother tongue in explaining and teaching.

Stress Relief Techniques for a Preschool Child – Part One

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Many years ago, children from birth to four or five years of age exercised natural preschool stress relief. Training in preschool stress relief was both unknown and unnecessary. Stay at home mothers never worried about trying to increase self-concept in their preschool children. They did not work to instill artificial coping skills and specialized anger management skills in pre-schoolers. Common sense dictated preschool stress relief efforts.

In the twenty-first century, however, many who themselves mismanage stress are seeking stress relief techniques for a preschool child or children. I have been appalled, both as teacher and principal, to see the negative, detrimental changes since I began my career. While we struggle to instill greater measures of preschool stress relief, we actually increase stress on young children.

From my viewpoint as career educator of more than 30 years, I would like to address the issue briefly. What are – or should be – appropriate preschool stress relief techniques?

Defining Preschool Stress

Preschool stress is the response of a preschool child to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual demands made upon the child. When the response is positive, the preschooler experiences eustress. When the response is negative, the child experiences distress. Both are stress: “eustress” is beneficial, happy stress; “distress” is unhealthy, miserable stress.

What Preschool Stress Is Not

1. Preschool stress is not the teacher’s demand that Sally come to the story circle and sit quietly. It is Sally’s response to that demand. Preschool stress relief must focus on the response.

2. Preschool stress is not the teacher’s demand that Bobby try again to count to 20. It is Bobby’s response to that demand. Preschool stress relief must focus on the response.

3. Preschool stress is not Mother’s demand that Sasha stop crying when left at preschool. It is Sasha’s response to that demand. Preschool stress relief must focus on the response.

Preschool Stressors versus Preschool Stress

The most prevalent error in attempts at preschool stress relief is the confusion of stressors with stress.

1. Preschool stressors, on the one hand, are always present. They are an inescapable part of life. Preschool stressors themselves should never be viewed as the cause of stress. Stressors are simply demands made upon the preschool child in one form or another: to cooperate; to learn; to share; to comply with rules; to exercise self control; etc.

2. Preschool stress, on the other hand, is the preschool child’s response to demands made upon him or her. If the child willingly accepts the demands, a feeling of eustress takes over. Endorphins are released and the child is cheerfully compliant. Preschool stress relief is not needed for eustress. If the child rejects the demands, however, distress takes charge. Distress, the fight-or-flight mechanism, releases adrenalin and the child becomes combative or fearful, and non-compliant. Distress does call for preschool stress relief.

Underlying Reason for Preschool Stress

The ultimate, underlying reason preschoolers experience “distress” rather than “eustress” is their inner response to relinquishing control or having no one in control.

Preschool children, like adults, want control in their lives. They want and need boundaries. On the one hand, they don’t want someone else controlling their lives. They want to steer their own lives. The term “terrible twos” originates in the preschooler’s desire to be independent of outside control. On the other hand, they want someone to exercise firm, loving control, and if the adult does not do so, the child will attempt it.

Basic Requirement of Preschool Stress Relief

Stress relief techniques for a preschool child must understand and build on the underlying reason for stress if they are to succeed. Preschool stress relief must focus on the child’s determination to exercise control, or have firm control exercised over, all 4 areas of his or her own life: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual.

Weeding Out Stressors

Preschool stress relief should not concentrate on wedding out stressors. The stressor is seldom at fault. No matter how great, the stressor itself does not determine how the child responds to it.

It is an error to believe that any of the following 7 approaches (which I have witnessed often) will accomplish preschool stress relief.

1. Adults give commands, and let children comply or not, as they wish.

2. Adults let children roam the room at will.

3. Adults let children refuse obedience until the count of 5, 10, etc.

4. Adults separate children who refuse to get along together.

5. Adults ignore misbehaving children, hoping desire for attention will win.

6. Adults classify misbehavior as stress behavior, and permit it.

7. Adults teach preschool stress relief techniques that focus on relaxation, smiling, and deep breathing, but neglect the root cause.

Successful preschool stress relief has a proven formula, which we address in Part Two of this article.

Preschool Teacher Requirements

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Certain preschool teacher requirements rely on the teacher’s personality. The teacher should meet these requirements before considering becoming a preschool teacher. First and foremost, you must love children. Stop and consider if you can spend 8-10 hours per day with 3, 4, and 5 year olds and have a positive enjoyable outlook before you consider becoming a preschool teacher.

Along with a positive attitude, your personality will be sure to have plenty of patience. You will be dealing with plenty of situations that will require an abundance of patient. You may have preschoolers that aren’t getting along, spills and sticky messes, accidents and demanding parents. All will require you to reach into your bag of patience for a never-ending supply.

Another preschool teacher requirement would be super organizational skills. You will want to have a place for everything and be able to keep excellent records. Between papers, supplies and equipment there is an overwhelming amount of stuff to keep track of. Being organized will mean that you can keep on top of the stuff.

Having good communication skills is another requirement that could lead to a better experience and a better run preschool. You will be communicating with toddlers all the way up to their grandparents. Being able to communicate with a wide range of ages can be essential when working in a preschool.

Creative could be a preschool teacher requirement that might be overlooked by some. The variety of activities that you a preschool teacher presents in their 3 hour time with their children can be overwhelming. You will want to have ideas for circle time, lessons, themes, fine motor activities, dramatic play, music and movement, gross motor activities, snack, and free time.

Along with the personality traits of a preschool teacher there are more concrete preschool teacher requirements. It is hard to identify them specifically because they differ from state to state.

All states have a requirements that are similar or the same. They all require CPR certification and first aid certification. They all require those that work with children have at least a high school diploma. All public preschools require teachers to be licensed.

To find the preschool teacher requirements for your state or area do a search at the state or local education office. Your place of application should also be able to help with requirements.

Many times to be the lead teacher or director of a preschool, a bachelor’s degree is required. This four-year program would be in an accredited, four-year university. It would likely be in Early Childhood Education or occasionally in Elementary Education. You would be required to do a student teaching experience at a preschool where the professional teacher would train you in the day-to-day running of a preschool.

Sometimes an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education is acceptable for the preschool teacher requirement. You can get an associate’s degree at the local community college. At Head Start, a Federal program for at-risk preschool children, an associate’s degree is required.

The CDA or Child Development Associate credentials can sometimes be all that is required. These credentials are available to applicants with high school diplomas and junior and senior high school students that are in a vocational program. Those that apply must have proof of 120 hours of training and 480 hours of early childhood education experience within the last 5 years. Then they must pass a written exam and oral interview.?

Do you have what it takes? Do you love children? In your personalities can there be found patience, a positive attitude, creativity, organization, and great communication skills? Do you have the proper licenses and/or degrees required for your state or area?

If you feel that you have these preschool teacher requirements, you should follow up this reading with some action.