Welcome to the series Choosing a Preschool. If you’re just joining in, I encourage you start from the beginning to see what got me started in my preschool research. Then check out the introduction regarding what this series will cover. And finally, visit the things to think about post. Today I’m focusing on explaining different preschool approaches and philosophies. This was something that completely threw me. I had no idea there were so many different options out there. No, it really doesn’t have anything to do with food allergies, just demystifying all the differences.
First you’ll need to decide which approach you’re looking for: a developmental preschool, an academic preschool, or a combination of the 2. Typically a philosophy will encompass one of these approaches.
Academic—Are you hoping your child will learn letters, numbers, begin to write, and read? If so, this is the type of preschool you’ll want to focus on. An academic based preschool is very similar to a kindergarten class. Academic settings are much more structured.
Developmental—Are you hoping your child will get a chance to try a hand at art, creativity, dress up, play, outside time? Then this is the type of preschool for you.
Of course you can find a combination of the two.
There are many different preschool philosophies. Some of the most common:
Montessori—In a Montessori, the teachers serve more as guides. Typically, a lesson is introduced to the entire class, but then they break in to smaller groups to explore the lesson at the children’s own pace. This philosophy is that children are individual learners and learn at their own pace. The children are encouraged to learn through all 5 senses. And the classes typically have 3-6 year olds all together so the older children help the younger children learn.This approach is great for children with special needs since they receive such individualized attention. Montessoris are very hands on and also teach children how to take care of their own needs and belongings. For more info go here.
Reggio Emilia—Very similar to a Montessori in the fact that the children are the leaders and the teachers are the guides. Only, with this philosophy the teachers observe what the kids are interested in first and then guide them to take on projects that pursue their interests further. So instead of the “guides” coming up with the lesson plans, essentially the kids are. A lot of their philosophy also surrounds the environment. For more info go here.
Waldorf—A Waldorf school’s teaching philosophy is one that follows anthroposophy; the belief that in order to understand the world, the children must first understand humanity (body, soul and spirit). This philosophy also focuses on creative play (creating their own toys), routine (student often continue through grade school with the same teacher) and teamwork. The original founder believed children learn best through imitation. For more info go here.
High/Scope—This is more of an academic approach. The focus on this preschool is academic skill development. For more info go here
Play-Based—Play-based preschools are just that; they focus on age-appropriate activities and teach kids through play. Typically different stations are set up encouraging different types of play (dress up, make believe, art, etc).
Religious—Preschools with a religious emphasis typically combine one of the above philosophies with age-appropriate religious teachings. If a religious component is important to you, make sure you familiarize yourself with the other philosophies and determine which you’d like to look for.
A combination—there are some preschools that combine some or all of the above.
Up next in the series will be Important Questions to Ask.
Welcome back to the series: Choosing a Preschool. If you’re just joining us, I encourage you to visit the introduction. Today I’m breaking down some of the things I suggested you think about when choosing a preschool and explaining why these are important, especially if you have a child with a life threatening food allergy. You may think the first few items I suggested you think about seem to be no brainers, and it’s true, a couple of the them are…
- Age—how old do you want your child to be upon entrance of preschool? Many preschools operate for children from 3 to 5 years old. Some operate for those as young as 2, but in my opinion this seems more like daycare. Some preschools break each age group out…so all the 3 year olds are together, all the 4 year olds are together, etc., while some preschools lump them all in one. Some are even more specific than that; they break them in to every 6 months so all the 3 year olds are together, all the 3 1/2 year olds are together, etc. I knew I wanted my son to have exposure to kids his same age (socialization was the main reason we opted to send him to preschool at 3 anyway) so either breaking it out by year or every 6 months was our top choice.
- Cost—how much can you afford to pay? This may narrow down your search simply based on how much is too much. Keep in mind that some preschools will offer a discount if you pay for the year in advance (another great reason to start thinking about preschool early…you can save!). Some preschools offer a multiple sibling discount, and others decrease the cost based on the number of days your child attends. Keep in mind too to look in to Flex Spending through the workplace! Or, write it off at tax time.
- Potty Training—Most preschools require your child is potty trained. However, the level of potty training and assistance varies. At the time we sent my son he was fully potty trained during the day. However, he needed help “cleaning up” if he needed to poo. To this day though, he chooses not to go at preschool.
- Parental Involvement—Some preschools require parents to spend a certain number of hours each month volunteering in the classroom. Others don’t allow parent participation at all. And others still are actually groups of parents, called a co-op, that take turns teaching their kids a curriculum they agree on beforehand. So where do you fall? Fortunately, some don’t require, but encourage parental involvement.
but there are some of the items that I suggested you think about that may seem like a no brainer, but are in fact CRUCIAL for someone with a life threatening food allergy…
- Hours of Operation—what hours are you looking for? Do you work and you’re trying to get specific hours covered? Are you trying to find something that runs all day, or does a half day better suite your needs? Does your child fare better in the afternoon or morning (some offer cheaper rates for afternoon but this doesn’t work for everyone, especially if an afternoon rest or quiet time is still involved)? The question of what the hours of operation are is especially important if you have a child with a life threatening food allergy. Are you trying to aviod most meal times for allergy purposes? I knew I didn’t want to have a place that served breakfast and lunch even though the hours would have been nice. I just didn’t want to deal with that kind of exposure for my son. One of the places I toured even served peanut butter as a bi-weekly staple…and who knows what kind of cross-contamination their knives or even their jelly jars have from being double dipped!
- Location—How far are you willing to travel to bring your child to preschool? This was especially important to us as parents since we could receive the call “your son is having an allergic reaction.” We wanted to be able to get there before an ambulance did if, heaven forbid, there was an emergency so we knew we didn’t want a preschool across town.
Welcome to the series: Choosing a Preschool. Making the decision to send my eldest to preschool was a tough one. See the original story here. It meant sacrificing my control of his allergy to a stranger. It meant that I wouldn’t be able to be there to protect him, watch over him, and keep him out of harms way. A life threatening allergy has a way of holding you hostage and I wasn’t going to let it. As a working mom I was unable to participate in mom’s groups, play groups, or even many of the outings that my friends were going on. If I weren’t so concerned about my son’s social aspect, I might have kept him home longer, but as it was, he needed some friends. I knew I needed to prayerfully send my son to preschool.
What I didn’t know was how difficult choosing a preschool would be regardless of the food allergy aspect. Not only are there SO many things to consider that I had NO idea about, but it can be an extremely emotional experience. Emotions aside, I created this series to help ease the logistical part.
I always suggest that preschool is something that you should really start thinking about a year before you’re intending to start your child.
In this series you can expect the following:
I will break down the importance of determining:
I will explain the different approaches and philosophies preschools take:
I will share some great questions to ask when interviewing preschools. Oh, you didn’t know you should interview them? Me either. But it’s extremely important. I’ll share some general questions as well as some important questions for those with children with food allergies.
And last but not least if you have a child with food allergies I’ll go over what to pack in your child’s emergency bag that your child will need to take to preschool as well as go over what an Action Plan for allergies is and what it should entail.
I am hopeful that someone will find this beneficial. I am hopeful that someone will be able to take something from this. And if anyone has any other tips, further examples, etc. please leave comments and I’ll include them!!
Daddy: “Kadyn, you must have your mommy’s genes.”
Kadyn: “No, mommy has her own jeans, they wouldn’t fit me. Mine are just right.”
Of course, we knew the humor behind the dialog. However, it wasn’t until after the conversation that I really stopped to think about what he said. Our eldest, Kadyn, in a way, was right…my genes won’t fit him…his are just right. He is his own person, unique and wonderfully made. He may have our “genes” but he also has his own genes that fit perfectly.
According to the pediatrician, Kadyn, is the most severely allergic kid in the clinic right now…and it’s a big clinic. Research is proving that allergies seem to be linked to your genes. Although his genes seem a bit too big for him, (anaphylaxis seems so severe for such a little boy), I have to remind myself that God created him. God’s eyes saw Kadyn’s unformed body. And all the days ordained for him were written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). To God, Kadyn’s genes have the perfect fit…nothing too big, nothing too small.
Now that Kadyn is 3 I would love to enroll him in a preschool (this was written several months ago and posted on my personal family blog). However, something is holding me back from sending him. Only in the past few days have I realized that it’s because I’m scared to hand his life over to someone else…someone that I don’t know, and don’t trust. Questions flood my mind…”will he eat something he isn’t supposed to have?” “Will the staff forget to read the labels on snack foods?” “Will the staff know how to properly administer an epipen?” “Will they know when to and not to give the epipen?” “Will another allergy present itself unknowingly?” (A few weeks ago he had another allergy scare…with walnuts…a nut we thought was on the “safe” list. He complained of his throat feeling funny, then threw up 3 times, then his face got puffy and his nose got so stuffy I couldn’t even understand what he was trying to tell me when he spoke…scary.) It’s frustrating as a parent knowing that these “genes” most probably came from me/us. However, as his jeans continue to get bigger, and he, older, I realize I need to keep things in perspective. God created him, God will protect him, God has a plan for him. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be prayerful the entire time, that doesn’t mean that I won’t ask 100 thousand questions of each preschool I interview to make sure I’m sending him to a safe one, but it does mean that it’s time to let go. God is in control.
Kadyn, you are right, your genes are perfect little man. I thank God that he chose YOU for us and I can’t wait to further watch as your “jeans” continue to grow.
This is a prelude to the next few days where I’ll be sharing with you the process we went through in choosing a preschool for our son and the precautions we took/take with his life threatening food allergies. Hopefully you find something in this series that you’re able to take with you: Choosing a Preschool.
Parents–it can be hard to relinquish control to someone else, can’t it? After all, we would die for our kids, but would someone else? Whether your fear for your kids is allergies, shyness, a handicap, inability to hear, to see, or something else entirely, and whether your preschool is actually preschool, or daycare, or grade school, a new babysitter, high school…or college, it’s important to acknowledge that your fear is real. It’s your truth. It can be scary that first go around. It can be scary to even admit out loud. But go ahead…we’re all about being transparent on this blog!
Today’s Transparent Moment is written by Kenna. Kenna is the Mommy of 3; their adorable little boy, Brighton, and two angels in heaven, Bennett and a little sweet pea. Kenna is a Mommy that embodies grace, poise, and is a true example of a wonderful mom. She and her husband have been through so much in the past couple of years, but their strength is astounding and admirable; their story is heart breaking. Thank you for sharing your heart Kenna! I think it’s such a great, important reminder. You truly are remarkable!
“You don’t have a disease, you’re pregnant.”
My sweet husband had to remind me of this on an almost daily basis when we were pregnant with our first child, our little girl, Bennett. I’d respond, whining, “I know, but I’m so sick and so tired.” And he’d remind me of all the women that had been having babies for thousands of years. Well, I wasn’t those women; I’m me, and I am living now, not in the 1800’s when they were a lot tougher! He wasn’t trying to be unsympathetic, he was just trying to be real―trying to take some of the attitude out of my attitude, so maybe I wouldn’t focus on all the throwing up I was doing. I remember saying, “She better be cute!”
Then came the thirty week appointment. I was beginning to feel like after 210 days of throwing up, I was finally getting there! It would all be worth it once we met our little lady. But the unfathomable happened: at the end of the appointment, our doctor was unable to find a heartbeat. My world collapsed. In the midst of all my complaining, I hadn’t stopped to realize: I was so deeply in love with my sweet little girl. She was my future. I’d have died for her. Guilt knocked me over like a tidal wave. In an instant, heartburn and puking became cherished memories, shared with a child I would only be privileged to hold once.
After that experience, the first time I heard a woman complain about her pregnancy, I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I wanted to punch her, but I also so badly wanted her to know how lucky she was to still be pregnant, and how much I wanted to take her place. She should know my pain: then she’d know better than to complain. Immediately, I knew I couldn’t really wish this hole of despair on anyone, and a rush of guilt filled me. My husband gently reminded me that I didn’t have this unfair perspective before, either. How could she know?
Thankfully, we were able to get pregnant with Brighton ten weeks later. I remember beaming each time I ran to the toilet or lost it in the sink. “The baby’s growing!” I’d cry. And I hardly noticed the pulled groin muscle that caused me to limp my entire pregnancy. Around seven months, our little guy sat on my ureter, causing a sharp pain in my back―like a kinked muscle―that lasted until Brighton was about a month old. Instead of whining, I chuckled at his masterful movement. His movement was constant: and I praised him for his reassurance, no matter what time of day or night.
I am now so aware of women everywhere that don’t have the I-got-pregnant-the-month-we-started trying-and-posted-the-positive-test-on-Facebook-and-forty-weeks-later-had-a-perfect-vaginal-delivery- and-posted-the-healthy-baby-photos-on-my-Wall experiences. Our stories are all different―there are women that lose more babies than they get to hold, or ones who try for years to conceive, feeling each month like they’ve had a loss when they start their period.
Readers: Kenna’s heart is transparent in this post. It’s so difficult to lay your heart out there with such a tender topic. I hope you can see how deeply caring she is. She knows there is nothing they can do to bring their sweet little Bennett back, but hopes that they can use her life to help bring perspective to others, or a sensitivity to others tragedy. Thank you Kenna for sharing your heart.
This is definitely not a conversation that would occur for parents of girls…
The scenario: Our oldest woke in the middle of the night needing to pee. He sleeps on the top bunk and always hollers for me if he needs to get down to use the bathroom; something I appreciate and hate. I love that he doesn’t try to stumble down the ladder in a sleepy stuppor and I hate that I have to get up. You’d think that I would give up and put him on the bottom bunk, but you see, he’s afraid of the bottom bunk. He thinks that something creepy has to live down the crack by the side of the bed closest to the wall. So, getting up to take him pee it is.
If you know my son you know that there are some times when you just don’t mess with him. If he wakes crying in the middle of the night that is one of them. He only wants Mommy, he doesn’t want to talk to tell you why he’s crying (usually because he has to pee), he doesn’t want the light on in the bathroom, and heaven forbid you try to help him; all things I learned through hysterical grunts in the past year since he’s been potty trained at night. This was one of those nights…
As he was peeing I knew he probably missed some. So when he was done, I scooped him up to take him back to bed and hollered to my hubby.
Me: Hon, can you please check out the bathroom to see if there’s any P-E-E to clean up? (As most parents I usually spell words so my kids don’t know what I’m talking about or so I don’t embarrass them. But, why did I spell pee? It sounds exactly the same whether it’s spelled or just said.)
I come back out after about 5 minutes of songs and back scratches. And hubby is sitting on the couch.
Hubby: You know, next time could you have him just stand in the middle of the bathroom and pee? It would make it so much easier to clean up. It was everywhere; behind the toilet, on the seat, on the stand, on the base, on the floor. Everywhere.
Me: (laughing) Yea, I knew it was going to be messy. Sorry.
Hubby: Or, you could just have him stand in the tub. That would be even better. How on earth could he have been standing right in front of the toilet and miss completely? Um, don’t answer that. (Pause) Why didn’t you teach him how to point it down?
Pretty sure hubby must have missed the past year…like I said above, there are middle of the night times you just don’t mess with our son.
And until he’s older and my hubby can teach him I’m grateful for the back scratches and songs to keep me occupied long enough to miss clean up
Readers: What are your “raising boys” stories? Or for those with girls, what are your potty training stories?
I became a mom the moment I conceived. I learned very quickly to self-sacrifice and to put my needs aside for the betterment of my children. During pregnancy you spend 9 months growing each child. You decline countless drinks, high sugar foods, and anything else deemed “unsafe” or “unhealthy.” You sacrifice your body to your baby; stretch marks, extra skin, sags, t-h-r-o-w-i-n-g-u-p!, possible C-section scars. Not to mention labor. And that’s just the beginning. I found once they were born to be even more restrictive since I was nursing. It seemed every food and even my beloved, coveted, much needed coffee was off limits. Greens, beans, red sauce, dairy…you name it, I couldn’t have it. (You mean no pizza?! What’s a girl to do?! I’m surprised I didn’t lose more weight than I did.) You’re up all night, have countless hours of lost sleep, cracked nipples, Mommy-brain, and lost sleep (did I say that already?).
And yet, if a beautiful pregnant baby belly, feeling your baby kick, feeling the rhythm of baby hiccups, bonding before birth, and meeting your baby for the first time isn’t worth it…and if baby cuddles, baby kisses, baby smiles, baby coos and baby giggles weren’t enough to make it all worth it (oh how the list of wonderful could go on forever)…the moment your little one stretches his/her pudgy little arms out and says “Mama,” and then “Mommy,” (or Dada/Daddy) Or, “Mommy, I love you.” Oh. So. Worth. It. That precious word can make any sacrifice worth it.
However, lately my kids have been calling me “Mom.” Gosh darn it, I worked hard for that “Mommy” title. I was hoping it would stick around a bit longer. Mommy means they’re still little. Mommy means I have more time for baby cuddles. Mommy means they are still my sweet little boys. But, Mom? That makes me feel old (Mom, if you’re reading this…you’re not old!). Mom means my boys are growing up too fast! Mom means the years have been flying by. At this point, I long to hear Mommy.
This Mommy cherishes these moments. The days of organized chaos, no sleep, and lots and lots of cuddles. The days where my kids want to be with me, ask me to play with them, and will let me kiss them. The moments of discovery, of the many firsts (smiles, walking, talking, learning new words, etc), and of ‘Mommy I love you.’ I cherish these moments because they are numbered.
And for all you Moms and Dads out there…I hope you know that deep in our/their hearts, you’ll always be “Mommy and Daddy.”
Readers: Have your kids switched from Mommy/Daddy to Mom/Dad? Regardless, what has been your most cherished moment?
Fact: Most women walk out of the hospital room, baby in tow, still looking 4 to 5 months pregnant.
Fact: Most women’s body shape changes after baby.
Fact: If this is not the case for you, I will briefly dislike you.
Conversation about a picture that was taken 4 days post baby #1 (I was in a wedding 4 days after having my first):
My oldest son: Mommy, is that baby brother in your tummy?
Me: No, that’s baby you that Daddy is holding.
My oldest: Why is your tummy so big?
Conversation 1 week post baby #2 (In an allergy consult with our oldest son):
Nurse: Oh Sweetie, you probably aren’t in any condition to hold your son for the shots. How far along are you anyway?
Me: Um, I’m not pregnant.
Conversation JUST YESTERDAY (keep in mind my youngest is 2 next month):
My youngest son: Mommy. Tummy. (points to tummy)
Me: Yes. Good job.
My youngest son: leans on my tummy Skishy! (huge grin. Means squishy)
Way to build Mommy’s confidence love bug. That’s because you were 9.8 lbs stinker.
Despite not doing too much in the workout department, I am thin. Yes, I don’t have too much room to talk about struggles with body after baby. After all, I love my arms; lifting my kids up and down, down and up, and up even higher (bunk bed), has given me great arms. Something else I love? I have a completely supportive husband. He thinks I’m beautiful…no.matter.what. Which helps me boost my confidence. And I have to admit, sometimes when I look at my stomach…just how it is…I’m reminded of carrying my boys for 9 months, how wonderful (you can tell that I haven’t been pregnant for 2 years when I refer to my last pregnancy as wonderful) pregnancy is, and the awesomeness of birth. And yet…
Truth: I feel good about myself when I’m clothed; I’m able to easily hide my body under clothes.
Truth: I hate my naked body. Or rather, my naked stomach.
TRANSPARENT TRUTH: I usually keep a shirt on during sex so I don’t have to be self conscious. How’s that for brutal transparency? (Sorry honey!)
You always hear how it takes 9 months to gain the baby weight, so be kind to yourself, give yourself 9 months to lose those pounds too. But what you see is the supermodels strutting the runway 2 months post baby in LINGERIE. Hmmm. There’s a lot of pressure to quickly get body back. What you don’t hear is that most women actually have to work at getting pre-baby body back, some women will always have slightly different bodies. You mean I have to work at it?! And I have to work at it in between not sleeping, changing diapers, working full-time, cleaning the house, writing blogs, taking pictures, entertaining, bathing, feeding, clothing, etc.?!
Fortunately, losing the weight was never the issue for me. I nursed both boys and the pounds literally just melted off. I could eat every Christmas cookie at the table and still lose weight. I was down to my skinny, pre-baby weight within 4 weeks. However, my body was, and is, different. I understand that many women will briefly dislike me for even posting this, because let’s face it…I’m thin and my weight is right where it should be (and I totally understand some of you are far from your goal). However, it’s all about how I feel.
Since being pregnant I’ve purged almost every article of clothing I owned before I had my kids. Nothing fits. My hips are wider, muscle smaller, stomach and ribs wider, boobs smaller (how was that even possible?) and the weight is dispersed very differently. Body is just different. I go shopping for new clothes for myself and usually come home with bags of clothes for my kids. Not because what I found was too good of a deal to pass up, but rather, I get so depressed trying on clothes where I just can’t take it anymore. It’s easier to buy something in 2T or 5T that I know will fit my boys and they doesn’t need to try it on. Needless to say I don’t have many clothes right now.
Problem is, in college I destroyed my knees running and haven’t taken the extensive time necessary to properly rehab them. So exercise is a challenge for me. Running was what I loved and I never feel like I’m working out unless I’m running. Silly, I know. But I’ll admit, I’ve been afraid to work at it too because in addition to my knees, my stomach muscles severely separated with the birth of #2 (did I mention he was 9.8 lbs…), I got quite a few stretch marks under my belly button with #2 (and all out front?!), and I have a ton of extra skin (combine 9.8 and all out front).
But now I have a goal. Hawaii in late Spring. Sun. Sand. Family. Hot…Bikini? I haven’t worn one of those in 4+ years! That would be nice.
So, I’m starting P90X…but taking it really easy due to the bad knees. And you know what? If I’m still wearing a tankini in Hawaii, but feel good about myself, that’s okay. Who’s with me?
Readers: What’s one thing you love and one thing you hope to change about your “new” body?
Whether you bottle or breast feed feeding baby is a great opportunity for connection and bonding. Nursing was one my most favorite times of the day; a time that only I got to hold the baby. A time for staring at tiny little features and memorizing little creases and lines (or falling asleep). When I was pregnant with our second son I was concerned that I wouldn’t have a chance to make that same connection with the new baby because I would have my attention divided. I had visions of my older son getting jealous that I was spending so much time with the new baby. And how was I possibly going to keep my boob on one and my eye on the other? I envisioned disaster.
Enter The Nursing Box.
The Nursing Box is a large box, or Rubbermaid, that you fill with all kinds of toys, games, books, movies, etc; anything that your older child/children will find entertaining while you nurse or feed your new baby. This means you have entertainment at your feet for your older child(ren) and you can get quality time with your new baby.
I would suggest setting up a blanket on the floor by where you’ll be nursing and establishing the following Nursing Box Rules:
1. Have your child stay on the blanket (or designated area of your choosing) while the Nursing Box is out.
2. Only let your child play in the Nursing Box while baby is being fed. As soon as you’re done, the box, and all the items inside, go away until next time. There may be a few tears the first few times items are put away, but they will figure it out eventually. My older son actually looked forward to “nursing time. ”
My friends put one together for me for my baby shower and I not only used it with our 2nd son but also our 3rd. Such a lifesaver. It’s a great baby shower gift to give an experienced mom especially if her older children are under 5 to keep older children entertained while feeding baby.
Budget Savvy Mommies–hit up some garage sales pre-baby (because let’s be honest, once you have your first, you no longer care about having all things new…used is just fine) or ask for this as a baby shower gift!
Examples of great Nursing Box contents:
- Books (books with CDs and LeapFrog books are great too!)
- Movies w/portable DVD player
- Games (like Go Fish, Matching, Candy Land that you can play with 1 hand)
- Coloring books or sticker books
- Wooden puzzles
- Mini play mats with cars
- Play dough w/cookie cutters
- Action Figures
- Put together a couple small “Busy Boxes”similar to the ones seen on Play At Home Mom LLCs blog. You could rotate these.
- Beads and string or pipe cleaners to make beaded necklaces
- Collect all different types of tops/lids. These can be sorted, imagined with, stack, match, etc.
- Lego Duplos
<<How do, or did, YOU entertain older siblings while feeding a new baby? >>
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