Choosing a preschool is the just first decision in a long series of educational choices you will make as your child progresses through school. Fortunately, many preschools today offer programs that are as unique as the young students walking through the door. Here we highlight a few local schools that strive to make the preschool experience a great one for both kids and their parents.
Southport Presbyterian Christian School
Southport Presbyterian Church
7525 McFarland Boulevard, Indianapolis
This year Southport Presbyterian Christian School is offering something new for students ages three and up called Preschool Plus. Parents may elect to have their child attend extra hours on the same days they have class. “These new hours help transition to full-day kindergarten,” says Preschool Director Christi Shomaker. “During this program we are able to pair older kids with younger ones for mentoring. The PreK students will work with the three-year olds as much as they are able. This is an enriching social opportunity that they may not get otherwise.”
The Children’s Museum Preschool
3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis
At The Children’s Museum Preschool, children have access to the museum from 9:00 to 10:00 am when the museum is still closed. They can enjoy live theater performances and the planetarium, and also have access to paleontologists, archaeologists, actors and interpreters, musicians, astronauts and resident artists. During preschool, students switch between time in the classroom and viewing galleries for a purposeful visit. Children have access to over 115,000 artifacts and objects. Preschool Director Cathy Southerland says, “Object-based learning fosters a sense of wonder and vocabulary. There is an inference piece as children are asked what they think objects may have been used for. Children learn to look carefully, notice details and create stories. I pinch myself that we are able to offer this extraordinary experience for children.”
St. Mark’s Preschool
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church
4780 East 126th Street, Carmel
At St. Mark’s preschool children rotate with their teacher and class to different rooms throughout the day. They have a room for crafts, music and movement, free play, creative drama, snacks, a circle room and more. According to Preschool Director Barri Hicks, “This transition teaches children skills that will prepare them for kindergarten as well as providing variety throughout their day.” St. Mark’s also offers a room typically used weekly by every class called the Make BEElieve Room created in honor of preschool student Henley Romine, who lost her life to cancer. This room is transformed every four to six weeks to reflect a new theme such as Santa’s Workshop, a circus, a food court, a pizzeria and a beach to name a few.
8547 East US Highway 36, Avon
Goddard School offers FLEX (Fun Learning Experience) through play-based, child-focused curriculum. Goddard owner Robert Cummins says “Teachers will have goals in mind and sit things out for children to play with reflecting these goals. Children are encouraged to try everything, but will not be forced to do anything they don’t want to.” He gives an example of an activity used to teach spatial relationships where students connect tubes in different ways to build a marble run. They build and rebuild while asking questions like; What if we add a corkscrew? What if we try to place this higher? Now lower? Through this experience of trial, error and play, students come to their own conclusions and learn the objectives that teachers have intended.
Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery and Kindergarten
7171 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis
Parents play a vital role in the success of this cooperative school as they are trained to be assistants in the classroom with a six-hour required workshop, hear expert parent education speakers and attend class meetings. When talking about the importance of parenting, Preschool Director Ginny Hacker says, “It is the one job for which we have the least amount of training. A cooperative school offers guidance for parents from trusted professionals and opportunities for discussion, sharing, learning and socializing.”
Meridian Hills Cooperative Nursery and Kindergarten offers a play-based curriculum. “The work of children is play,” says Hacker. “Over the years we have worked hard to maintain that philosophy even with the academic push that is so prevalent. Much in our society has changed, but child development has not. It is our job to teach with developmentally appropriate practices that focus on the whole child in order for them to thrive socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically.”
With the variety of preschool programs and options available locally, deciding on the right environment for your child may be daunting. Spend some time thinking about what you’re looking for in a preschool experience, research potential schools online and set up on-site visits with programs that interest you. With a little legwork up front, you can find the preschool that you and your little student both love.