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What Is the BEST Packaged Preschool Curriculum?

I saw this question posted to an education discussion list:

“Can anyone provide a link to a packaged pre-school program? My child just turned 3 YO in January.”

The question resulted in someone else asking, “If you could design the ultimate packaged preschool curriculum, what would it contain?”

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.

As for me, I’m not sure it’s possible to construct a packaged preschool curriculum that would across-the-board satisfy or address the specific needs, interests, and abilities of ALL preschool age children. Even if you just create a toy box with nothing but open-ended toys and materials — not everything in the box is going to appeal to every child.

The more I think about this, the more I just get back to “play” as the best curriculum. The latest studies by child developmentalists and brain researchers unequivocally show that young children learn best through imaginative play. (Read: Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Hirsh-Pasek, and Home Alone America by Mary Eberstadt, and Your Child’s Growing Mind by Jane Healy.)

In fact, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that debunks the need for academic preschool curriculum — no matter what the popular culture and media say. Parents of young children need to wear earplugs to drown out the noise of the accelerated-learning-school-government-corporate complex.

My advice to parents of young kids is to listen to your gut, your instinct, and your heart — it will be a better guide than anything any expert and anyone (including me) can tell you about how your own little ones learn best.

Children are the best barometer for determining what works for them and what doesn’t.

If they are frustrated, bored, mad, unhappy, acting out and generally miserable then whatever it is they are doing is inappropriate for their specific learning and growing needs.

If they are happy, joyful, curious, and thouroughly engaged — then what they are doing is exactly right for their unique intellectual, physical, emotional, psychological and spirtual development.

Every child is different. There isn’t a packaged curriculum that exists that can effectively speak to that spark of individual genius in EVERY little kid. That genius needs time to develop at its own pace and self-directed play provides the child with the time and the materials to allow that to happen.

With that said, I’d still like to hear what toys and materials parents have found that keep their 2-5 year olds playfully and happily learning.

I do suspect that if some entrepreneur boxed them altogether and sold it as the ultimate (and probably VERY expensive) preschool curriculum — there’d be a market for it. 🙂

2 comments to What Is the BEST Packaged Preschool Curriculum?

  • Anonymous

    What Is the BEST Packaged Preschool Curriculum?

    That’s easy! The best toy my son had at that age was an large empty box. It was just large enough for him to stand up in. We used crayons and markers, the entire family worked together to “decorate” it. We made a door and windows too. (Duct tape works very well around windows.)

    You can spend as much or a little time when you like and when the box has had it, it’s easy to replace.

    Annette M. Hall | 4/8/2005 10:35:37 AM

  • Anonymous

    I’ve looked a lot and…

    …I even tried some of the packaged curricula out there. What I discovered was that most of it is cookie-cutter academics which are BORING and unnessesary.

    The workbook pages that teach phonics skills can be replaced with games like “let’s look for things in the living room that start with /sh/ (shell, ship, shirt, etc.) and put them in a shoebox! These days, I follow my kids’ leads (4 and 3 year olds).

    When my 4 year old wants to know how to “spell” things, we label items in the house that she is curious about. There is always paper and crayons out and my kids do a LOT of drawing and “story” writing (mostly dictated). We count EVERYTHING (pennies earned for toys cleaned up, grapes on the lunch plate, socks in the hamper) and play games like “if I washed three of those socks, how many would still be stinky?”

    Doing these things as they come up naturally has meant more fun for me and the kids and I find that my girls actually have more “advanced” academic and social skills than most of their friends who go to preschool!

    The MOST helpful/useful tools I have purchased have been used Montessori materials that I found on ebay! There is some great stuff that helped my daughter strengthen her fingers so her pencil/crayon grip was better as well as develop visual-spatial skills.

    Jennifer | 4/8/2005 7:25:59 PM

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