100 hours may seem like a lot but in reality it's not. Esp. when I have such a wide variety [8 years] of age groups to observe.
Last week I did 1 hour of pre-K observation. Being a mother of a toddler who will enter pre-k in August 2011 I observed at the 'school' I want E to go to.
Kill two birds with one stone.
It's a Montessori school. Upon arriving on campus I was immediately blown away. I hadn't even stepped foot inside of a classroom. The school was a lot larger than appears from the road and it is beautiful. The staff was so warm and welcoming. The headmistress knew who I was the minute I walked into the office. Talk about a warm welcome!
She [the headmistress] lead me to their Pre-K 3/4... which consisted of ages 3 & 4s (one 2 1/2 year old was in there because of her skill set). This is the youngest class at the academy, the class e would be placed in if she is to attend come August.
Before she handed me off to Mrs. Z, I was given a quick overview of the schools beliefs, I knew of the Montessori theory from the class I am in, but it was nice to hear this schools theories and beliefs.
This class had about 18-20 students and every student was doing their own thing, but everything was under control, including the noise level; according to Mrs. Z it was a little loud, it was quiet to me!
Things I observed blew me away. These 3 & 4 year olds were doing activities that normally are done in a Kindergarten classroom. (ie: taking letter tiles and spelling 3 & 4 letter words on a mat, matching map cuts outs to their spot on the different maps, etc. Matching babyfood jars filled with water, sand/land & air to pictures of the same thing)
There was a reading corner and children would go over there but I figured that they were just looking at the pictures, as most 3/4 year olds do. But no, I was wrong. I heard a 3 1/2 year old girl read an entire book to Mrs. Z, cover-to-cover, making only ONE mistake!! I was shocked beyond belief, Mrs. Z told me that ALL her students go to Kindergarten reading above grade level. WOW.
No child ever had idle hands.
I asked Mrs. Z how she knew every child was being challenged enough... she told me "If they [the child] chooses an activity that doesn't challenge them enough for their age they are re-directed, mostly they pick well enough, they are like us, they don't like being bored"
These children amazed me, and so did Mrs, Z. She spoke to them in spanish and they spoke back but she spoke to them in English as well. Normally I am against pre-schoolers speaking/learning spanish but she did it very tastefully.
I couldn't get enough of the setting, I was just drinking it all in. I was thinking how wonderful this was and what an advantage these kids have on kids who go to a normal pre-school. I know this post doesn't do this school justice, but trust me it was beyond amazing.
These children didn't even speak like they were 3/4 years old. I would love for E to attend this school, but it is VERY VERY pricey. I am working 2 jobs alone to pay my bills so I can't afford it. Maybe with help from my parents I can afford it or a scholarship, which I will be applying for very soon.
All-in-all it was a great experience and the headmistress told me I am welcome back anytime, just to give her a call. I will be taking her up on her offer. I can do up to 10 hrs in one classroom and they go up to 8th grade so I can get some K, 1, 2 & 3 hours done there too! After seeing how their preschoolers are, I would LOVE to see how their elementary aged kids are.
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