Article from: http://www.greatschools.org/find-a-school/defining-your-ideal/1093-10-signs-great-preschool.gs?page=1 If your child is between the ages of 3 and 6 and attends a childcare center, preschool, or kindergarten program, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) suggests you look for these 10 signs to make sure your child is in a good classroom:
Children spend most of their time playing and working with materials or other children. They do not wander aimlessly and are not expected to sit quietly for long periods of time. Children have access to various activities throughout the day. Look for assorted building blocks and other construction materials; props for pretend play; picture books; paints and other art materials; and table toys such as matching games, pegboards, and puzzles. Children should not all be doing the same thing at the same time. Teachers work with individual children, small groups, and the whole group at different times during the day. They do not spend all their time with the whole group. The classroom is decorated with children’s original artwork, their own writing with invented spelling, and stories dictated by children to teachers. Children learn numbers and the alphabet in the context of their everyday experiences. The natural world of plants and animals and meaningful activities like cooking, taking attendance, or serving snack provide the basis for learning activities. Children work on projects and have long periods of time (at least one hour) to play and explore. Worksheets are used little if at all. Children have an opportunity to play outside every day. Outdoor play is never sacrificed for more instructional time. Teachers read books to children individually or in small groups throughout the day, not just at group story time. Curriculum is adapted for those who are ahead as well as those who need additional help. Teachers recognize that children’s different background and experiences mean that they do not learn the same things at the same time in the same way. Children and their parents look forward to school. Parents feel secure about sending their child to the program. Children are happy to attend; they do not cry regularly or complain of feeling sick.
While connecting experience to language is an important foundation for learning to read, giving children direct contact with books is equally important. In fact, the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
When adults read aloud, children quickly learn that a book is a wonderful thing. When an adult happily reads aloud to children and reads stories that delight both the adult and the children, the experience can be magical. Often adults relive the joys of stories that were important in their own childhood and pass those special stories on to the next generation. The children bask in the warmth and intimacy of sharing a book with a loved adult. Even if children do not fully understand the story or poem being read, they may enjoy simply hearing the tone and cadence of the adult’s voice, and they will naturally learn about the nature of stories and the structure of language.
There is more to reading to children than just saying the words. Reading aloud is a social event, a shared activity in which children are encouraged to ask questions and talk about a story. A story may be the jumping off point for great discussions. For example, what would your children say if you asked, “Why did the hare think he could get away with sleeping on the side of the road?” Pointing out the connections between the story and your children’s own lives is also important. Comparing Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny of Beatrix Potter fame with the rabbit you saw at the pet store, at the zoo, or in the woods will help your child distinguish between real and make-believe.
It is not so much who reads with children but rather that someone does it regularly and with joy. Whole Child Development Guide
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