As the sounds of spring begin to fill the air, the hearts of mothers everywhere race with the idea of putting Junior in pre-school in the fall.
Danbury has it's fair share of wonderful pre-schools, but styles differ. Danbury.Patch asked moms what they are looking for in a pre-school and we heard from educators about how a good pre-school can impact the future success of a child's education. At the end, you will find a short list of pre-schools and we encourage others to add their own photos and info as well.
Moms! What are you looking for in a pre-school?
Melissa Parrish: For me, the first thing was that they had to be able to take my infant as well as my three year old. I also needed a space that was safe; locked front doors is important. I need to feel comfortable that they are safe while I am at work. I also want to know they are genuinely happy while they are there. Besides that, there needed to be a good mix of things to do. (Melissa chose Hudson Country Montessori).
Olga Herrera: There needs to be a better selection of two year old programs in Danbury. It sounds weird, but it is also important to me to be able to find it on the web. About the pre-school? I want a place that has play based education.
Andres Gonzalez: I am home in the morning with the kids and my wife is with them in the afternoon. We teach them everything at home; numbers, colors, letters, but they need more than that. They need to be with other kids, they need to not be at home in front of the television set. My kids have two totally different personalities. I need to find a place, maybe a Christian school, that will have structure and where they will learn and meet other children.
Phoenix Sanders: My daughter has special neeeds. I am looking for a place that has a qualified staff, where Taisha will get one-to-one care. She needs patience and attention. They have to love her.
How is pre-school the foundation of a successful kindergartener?
“When a child enters pre-school, it is often the first time they find themselves within a group,” said Mary Budrawich, Early Childhood Education consultant and presenter at last week's Danbury's Three Rs seminar. She said,“Knowing how to share, learning to wait, being independent in the bathroom, knowing how to dress themselves and how to open a juice box seem like simple enough tasks, however, for many children entering kindergarten, these are skills they have not yet mastered.”
While those skills will be necessary for kindergarten, they are skills that a good pre-school will develop, which in turn will make the kindergarten transition easier. “We always know when a child comes from a good pre-school,” said Budrawich.
Another early education teacher and parent at the seminar, Louise LaManna, said, “Making sure children are fed breakfast and getting them to bed on time is critical to a child's performance in school.” Lamana also said, “If parents spent ten minutes reading to their children each day, it would help so much.”
“We would be dancing in the streets if all parents read to their children,” said Budrawich. “Parents who do not speak English well should be encouraged to read to their children in their own language as well. Children should learn to read in their Native language first.”
Budrawich also hoped parents would take the opportunities to introduce learning in fun activities. She said that opportunities to read are everywhere, and when parents make a game of reading, children are more receptive to learning. “Many children first recognize the letter D in Dunkin Donuts. If they have the letter D in their name, they come to associate the letter as their letter.”
Enviromental reading is simply recognizing the words they see everyday, and encouraging sight reading is an important introduction and preparation to reading in the classroom. Budrawich used the same ideas for math. “When going up stairs, have the children count them as they go up; incorporate counting in daily tasks. Colors can be taught by folding socks. Life patterns are an introduction to patterns in school. The pattern of ABAB is common in daily tasks.”
If parents do not know what ABAB patterns are, or whenever a teacher is talking about classroom activities in a way that a parent doesn't understand, the parent should never be afraid to ask. Seminar guest and early childhood educator Elizabeth DiResto said, “Make sure there is a balance between parents and the classroom. Parents should attend the parent/education workshops.”
Many parent education workshops are provided by Danbury's Children First, the Three Rs and others through the Literacy Center.
Nothing was more strongly promoted during the seminar than the importance of parent communication with their children and school. “Education needs to be a parnership,” said Budrawich.
“No matter what the cultural beliefs are, we want parents to ask questions,” said Anne Meade, Administrator of Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs. If a teacher is talking about classroom activities in a way that a parent doesn't understand, the parent should never be afraid to ask.
Caroline LeFleur, Coordinator of the 3Rs Early Childhood program, attended the meeting and said, “Parent involvement is the single most important aspect of preparing a child for kindergarten. Parents who begin the educational process at home guarantee that their child will have a more successful educational experience.”
Here are a few of Danbury's pre-schools, all of which came highly recommended by professionals. However, this is far from a complete list and we invite other pre-schools to post their own information in the comments section below and to upload their photos with captions to our gallery.
A short selection of pre-schools in Danbury:
Hudson Country Montessori: “We have a full playground and our own building. Children in Montessori are allowed to work at their own pace, we don't restrict them,” said Megin Meyer, Director. “We encourage freedom within limits to explore and acquire knowledge. Our kids test one to two years ahead. Three year olds can learn reading and four year olds can learn mulitplication. They enjoy it, and they learn the ability to focus and stay on task, a critical skill for further education.” Click ere.
Wooster School: “Whether it’s a nature walk to the brook, a music and movement class, or sorting colorful beads, children engage in active learning through exploration and purposeful play. Led by specialists in their fields, our students participate in movement, music, art, physical education, library, story-time chapel, and introductory Spanish. We provide the richest environment for our youngest learners. Our highly-skilled and experienced faculty, trained in early childhood education and development, foster children’s growth in a respectful, kind, social, safe, and nurturing environment.” From literature provided by the school. ere.
Samuels Early Learning Center: “We are a no clocks classroom. The children can stay with their projects until they finish. The funny thing is, they always know when it's lunchtime,” said Ashley Nelson, the schools director. Click ere.
The beautiful brand new space does not celebrate holidays but instead has families come one evening a month to celebrate events such as Dr Seuss' birthday, family feasts and cookie night. They offer seminars on parenting skills auch as help with potty training and difficult behaviors. Nelson said, “Everything we do teaches skills. We pick our goals from the Connecticut Pre-school Framework.”
King Street Cooperative Nursery School: Parents come into the classroom as volunteers once every six weeks or so. It's a special day when mom comes! The youngster can pass out the snacks and celebrate their parent being there in many ways. It's a wonderful opportunity for the parents to really see the school in action and it connects the home with the school in a way that makes the child feel comfortable. The nursery school is located at the King Street United Church of Christ.
The program stresses social skills and school readiness. There are stations that develop fine motor skills and allow the students to become independent as they move about the room. Singing time is based on monthly themes. There is a story time, snack time, and the children can play outdoors. Age appropriate activities as they develop. Ages 3 and 4 accepted. Call for more information, 203-743 5427.
Hats Off to Kids: There are many day care centers in the area, however they are not schools. Young children benefit most from a strong preschool program that enhances academic, social and emotional skills. HATS OFF TO KIDS is an early childhood education program for children ages 3-6. We will provide a quality educational program designed on a full time or part time basis as best fits the needs of your child and your family. We are not a child care center, rather an academy for excellence in preschool.