For those of you experiencing Pre-K angst and for others who are deciding where to send your 3 year old next year, I have the following thoughts to share on the subject.
I am picky. Really picky. In fact, when I was trying to choose a three’s program, I toured nine different nursery school programs (!). I came to the conclusion that there are many wonderful programs in our area, but after my visits and asking tons of questions, I decided to send my little one to the YM/YWHA on Nagle Avenue. She was there for the three’s program, and next week she will “graduate” from the Pre-K program.
My decision to send her to the Y was NOT based on price, location, nor the number of friends we knew who would be attending this program (although all of these things were a plus). Instead, I chose the Y because of:
- Staff engagement. I was looking for a place where the assistant teachers were as competent and engaged as the head teachers in every single classroom. The teachers and assistant teachers at the Y are practically interchangeable – talented, caring, competent, and fully engaged.
- A big indoor playspace in case of inclement weather. The Y on Nagle Ave. has a huge indoor gym in addition to the lovely (and spacious) rooftop playground. Let’s face it – the weather here is not the best, and more often than not in the winter, the class will be unable to access outdoor spaces. At the Y, the kids get to run around together for a bit every day, rain or shine.
- A productive and learning rich environment. Yes, the kids have plenty of time for free play, but they also “study” subjects such as space, world travel (cooking included), the human body, and numerous other topics. When your child comes home thrilled that the student nurses from Columbia Presbyterian came to discuss the human skeleton (and proceeds to explain the names of various bones to you), it is an amazing thing. In addition, the art projects are interesting, creative, and often include a narrative, which leads me to my final point…
- There is “sneaky learning” everywhere at the Y. There is no formal learning of letters or worksheets. Instead, teachers work on Kindergarten readiness creatively and constantly. After two years at the Y, my daughter is both socially and academically prepared for Kindergarten. She is excited to learn and skips to school each day. What more can you ask for?
I know that the Y has a few spots for the all day Pre-K and 3’s program next year… take a moment to check it out. The Y has been a fantastic place for us and may be the right fit for your family. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me off-list.