You say ‘preschool,’ I say ‘pre-K’… is there really a difference between what an education program is called and what it offers children? Yes, there is. While both programs offer important unstructured playtime and help children learn how to follow directions, there are distinctions to note. Here are three things parents should know when considering a private pre-Kindergarten program versus a preschool one.
The pre-K and preschool learning environments are similar in some ways, but very different in others. For example, pre-K classes are aimed at three, four and five-year old children, while preschools often accept younger kids. Also, pre-K programs offer a more structured learning environment and include fun activities and games that help teach basic math and phonics. Children who are familiar with these kinds of skills tend to more easily adapt to the academic expectations in kindergarten. In addition, pre-K teachers have degrees, while those in preschools are not required to obtain that level of education.
Children develop a love of learning and a sense of themselves early in their educational years. A private pre-K environment (like the one here at High Meadows) helps children develop and practice important social skills with both children and adults outside their family. Learning how to listen, share and communicate well with others enables children to thoughtfully consider ideas that are different than their own and figure out how to manage conflict appropriately. It also builds confidence in their ability to handle new situations and meet new people in varied social settings.
Language Skills Growth
A child’s vocabulary and language skills increase tremendously when they are three, four and five. Pre-K programs are structured to provide many ways for children to exercise these new skills regularly. By exploring unfamiliar places around them and tapping into their natural curiosity to ask questions about what they have found, students pick up new words and meanings. In addition, many pre-K programs offer music activities which help boost the development of language skills and children’s confidence as they master a larger vocabulary.
Our Private Pre-K Difference
Families chose High Meadows’ private pre-Kindergarten program for these reasons and more. Our small class sizes, extensive outdoor time, teachers who are keenly attuned to students’ needs, and friendly and inclusive environment are significantly important for parents. Children engage in joyful discovery on our campus and develop respectful connections to the natural environment by exploring the campus woods, meadows, creek and pond. They love playing with and feeding our bunnies, chickens, goats and sheep.
How we incorporate play-based learning in our classes is another key differentiator of our private pre-K. It has been the cornerstone of our program since High Meadows was founded in 1973 in beautiful Roswell, Ga. We believe that teaching is about engaging and connecting, not reciting and repeating. Our teachers inspire children to ask the next question, explore what matters to them and become respectful self-advocates. We encourage students to learn about the world around them by experimenting with it, exploring items found in their classrooms and in nature and interacting with each another. During this play, students foster and practice their problem solving, communication and social-emotional skills while beginning their academic learning journey. We are proud of our success in growing young learners and have seen the power of a play-based, private pre-K approach for more than 40 years.