By Kathryne Oates, Development Director
There are a lot of strong opinions about whether or not preschool should be play-based or academic-based. Many preschools use both in their program, but emphasize one over the other depending on their philosophy.
At Isaac Newton, we do not have a traditional three or four-year-old preschool program. We have a Pre-Kindergarten (sometimes known as AK) program. And while Isaac Newton’s Pre-K program leans toward the academic, it certainly provides daily opportunities for unguided play and recess. In addition to classroom instruction, the students attend computer class, music, library and physical education.
There are several reasons why we lean toward an academic style Pre-K program.
First, many of our students have already been to a traditional preschool program, either within a daycare center, or as part of a local church or public school. Our Pre-K does not use a four-year-old preschool curriculum. It uses an enhanced curriculum designed for children who need a bit more of a challenge, but who aren’t yet ready for Kindergarten. Does that sound like your child?
Our Pre-K Focus
Secondly, “it has become increasingly popular to give children who have summer birthdays ‘the gift of an additional year’ of preschool before a full day of Kindergarten,” says Mrs. Jolene Ridder, Isaac Newton’s Pre-K Director. “Often these children are ready for more academic challenge than a typical preschool program.”
Pre-K focuses on helping children become school ready, by guiding them through pre-reading and math skills. Those children who are interested and ready to read are encouraged to move along at their own pace, and most are reading short books sometime during the school year. Others are content to soak in the “rules of reading” through fun phonics lessons, letter recognition, sight words, and reading ques.
In math class, our students focus on learning their numbers through 100, counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s, and learning beginning fractions.
Some children delight in math and want to learn addition and subtraction, often using manipulatives (blocks, for example). They turn play into “playing with a purpose!”
Our Special Sauce
But the one thing that sets our program apart…our “special sauce” so to speak, is our biblical integration program. Our very youngest learn throughout the year that everything–reading, math, relationships, music, playground time, etc.–everything belongs to God!
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Abraham Kuyper 1837-1920
“Some of the foundational principles children are taught in Pre-K are that God is immutable,” said Mrs. Ridder. “That means God doesn’t change! We teach them that God loves them unconditionally, and that He is Sovereign…He is in control. We need not fret or worry! We bring those concepts down to a level that four and five-year-olds can begin to understand and embrace”.