Monday, July 28, 2008

Teaching Methods

I thought we had it all planned out. DD was going to go to a Waldorf Pre-School and Kindergarten which is in walking distance. (There is not a Waldorf grammar school in the city.) Then she would go to a Progressive Learning School in Buffalo, we would then take a bus. But now my husband has introduced the idea of Montessori Pre-K which I did not realized existed and was only a few blocks from our house. I wounder if it would be a better fit for DD's needs? The main goal is to fine the right fit for our child. A school that compliments her style of learning. Every child learns differently; kinesthetic, visual, auditory or is tactile. Plus there are other ways of learning. It is up in the air until I learn more about these schools and how my child bests learns.

I honestly think that different people have different needs and wants. One school may work better for one person and not another. As DD develops I am looking at her strengths, weaknesses, what the future world will be like and what school offers her the greatest chance of being satisfied in life.

Now I am dealing with three teaching methods. I am looking into different styles of teaching methods first. Then when I am satisfied with a teaching method I will look at the various schools that offer the method I choose. (This second part can be tricking. There are many schools that "teach like" but are not associated with the parent school. Often parent schools will have a certificate for associated schools. Or at least be registered with the parent school.

Three methods

Progressive Learning: Progressive Learning is a principal championed by John Dewy as a starting point as a teaching method. This system is an American Method that treats children as little scientist, developing hypothesizes, exploration, critical thinking and problem solving skills. I noticed the three most popular clubs at the Local Progressive Learning school were Ecology, Mock Trial and Model United Nations. The preschool is housed in a cottage and the children are kept together. Subjects like geography and science are introduced in Pre-School.

Waldorf: The Aurora Waldorf School in West Falls NY with a satellite Pre-K in the City of Buffalo is based on the method developed by Rudolf Steiner in Germany. They encourage creative make-believe play with all natural (no plastic) toys. They often teach the little children through story telling. The schools here in WNY also have kids knitting, cleaning and imitating adult activities like shopping in a home like environment. They also create a journal where they keep all their lessons learned. This was the biggest thing that attracted my attention. The journals are for all subjects and are a combination of writing, graphics and pictures. I thought this as a great learning tool. Though subjects like geography and science are traditionally introduced at about 7 years old.

Montessori: The Montessori Method was developed by Maria Montessori in Italy. It seems to be a combination of the creative play from Waldorf and the problem solving/science way of learn in Progressive Learning. They seem to use Modeling creative play more so then make-believe. Montessori has been known to introduce subjects like geography and science in pre-school.

I am booking a walk trough of the Waldorf, Montessori and Progressive Learning Schools this fall, 2008. I also will schedule a walk through of the Olmstead Public School & Tapestry Charter.

So, far everything I know about these schools is through the internet and recommendations.

1 comment:

Kisha said...

Its nice to see the different teaching philosophies laid out together. Very scientific. Usually people are so passionate about one they exclude any benefits of the other. This is the thing, if you are well educated it is probably pretty likely that your DD will get a good education anywhere. You read to her, pay attention to her, feed her nutritious food, provide time for free play and exercise, limit TV and other wise love her to bits. IMHO the greatest predictor for going to college is having parents that went to college. Mostly because you have the time, intelligence and attention to do all of those things that I mentioned above.

I also think that all three of these teaching environments are great, but because they're usually the domain of private schools, and that the people who send their children to private school are generally middle to upper middle class and pretty well educated them, these children would probably do well in any or all of them. While I'm by no means rich either, I feel that I'm pretty well educated myself as well, I joke with my friends and family "I'm sure that if we waited untill he was 5 and then send him out into the woods everyday, with Friday's at the library he'd be just as educated as any of his peers many who start with pre-school at 2."

So to me the bigger question isn't the educational style but the other things that surround any particular school environment. Like the schools philosophy on socialization, diversity in race and income, and even the raison d'etra of the school itself. For instance there is a good argument that American public school were opened and proliferated simply to keep the youngest children out of the work force and out of competition with their parents for jobs. And sometimes they really do look like warehouses for children! On the other hand I don't think that I'd want to send my child someplace that sees itself as a refuge from the public education system. Private schools drain the the middle class parents away from public schools meaning there are fewer volunteers, and fund raisers, or even just mom's who've read the article on too much homework, and are confident enough to bring it up with the teacher.

I didn't realize i had so much to say on this subject! But I guess I've been debating the subject in my head and with DH for sometime now; I haven't come to any conclusions yet! Let us know your continuing research and what you decide!