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Which Preschool is Right: Progressive

Which Preschool is Right: Progressive

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - January 29th, 2016

Which preschool program is right for your child? Yesterday we addressed the elements of Montessori schools.  Today I want to walk you through progressive schools.

Progressive Schools

What are progressive schools? 

They are also known as developmental, child-centered and bank street model.

This is the model I chose for my kids and we did love it. 

What is the philosophy of progressive schools?

Here, the philosophy is that children need to explore and learn through imaginative play, art, and block building.  The progressive classroom is usually set up as a series of “centers” where learning can take place using open-ended materials.  There might be a fantasy play area, a cluster of easels with paint, a block corner, water tables, puzzle area and more.  Teachers set these environments up in response to what they see that the children are interested in.  They move among the areas and encourage the kids to pursue their own projects and ideas at these centers.  Play is considered the “work” of children and it is taken seriously.

Is there a particular curriculum using the progressive model?

Here, there is no pre-planned curriculum that kids follow.  Since teachers are following the children’s lead, what kids learn from year to year and between the morning and afternoon sessions may be different.  Children work at their own pace, learning through play.  The interaction is between the children as opposed to the children and the materials (as with Montessori).  At no prescribed points are children expected to learn any particular skill.  In fact, specific learning through teaching is frowned upon.  This explains why my daughter never had a “unit” on shapes – This just wasn’t done in a progressive school.

Community is important in progressive schools.

Social interaction between children is very important in a progressive classroom.  There is much talk about “community.”  Separation between child and parent is seen as a major developmental step and a lot of time and energy is spent on this.  The atmosphere is informal, kids often call teachers by their first names, and you would never find uniforms in such a program.  The school is usually more relaxed about when a child should be toilet trained. 

What are the benefits of progressive schools for my child?

Children who attend progressive preschools are usually more independent, curious, creative and likely to ask questions.  They often score higher on tests of problem solving and curiosity, but lower on IQ tests.  If your child will need to be tested for private school or a gifted program after attending a progressive school, you will want to be sure he has gained all the abilities tests will assess. 

Come back next week for the rest of the series, as we address traditional and combination choices!


Preschool Series:

Which Preschool is Right for Your Child?

Montessori Schools

Traditional Schools

Combination Schools

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