Why are the children just playing? Where are the academics?
Research shows that children learn best when they are allowed to make many of their own choices and when they spend less time in large groups. This looks like play to us as adults, but it is the work of childhood. Children at Gretchen's House are given access to explore a rich environment which supports learning in language, literacy, social, physical, arts, sciences and mathematics. It's good to remember that what constitutes a good learning environment for older children does not necessarily translate into a good learning environment for young children. Young children are still in the midst of massive brain development. Things like swinging, rocking and spinning, called vestibular stimulation, are critical to growing a healthy brain. So the next time your child is reluctant to leave the playground, you can tell yourself that while you'd like to get home, your child is getting a little smarter with every swing!
How will my child learn to sit and listen?
Sitting and listening isn't something that children learn as much as it is something that their bodies gradually grow into. At Gretchen's House we provide opportunities for children to try these skills out at our large and small group times, but we understand that time, growth and development are the real determining factors. It's also clear from research that the less time a young child spends sitting and listening, the better his/her scores are on cognitive tests at age seven.
Will my child be ready for Kindergarten?
There is a lot of pressure on parents these days to be certain that their child is ready for kindergarten. At Gretchen's House we provide a quality, research-based curriculum that prepares children to be ready learners. The Michigan State Board of Education has published quality standards that are consistent with the HighScope Key Developmental Indicators (KDIs). The State uses these same standards to judge the quality of its own early childhood programs, such as Head Start and The Great Start Readiness Program.
I know you guys are doing the right thing, but since the schools are "pushing down the curriculum," shouldn't you adjust to prepare the kids?
Sadly, the current practices in some schools, primarily because of No Child Left Behind, are often not developmentally appropriate for young children. We do our best to prepare children for school by giving them the best possible learning environment that we can, while we have them. It's a stretch, but if you knew you were going to be starving in a year, would you stop eating now? No, you would eat as much healthy food as you could to prepare for the lean times ahead. At Gretchen's House we are feeding your children's minds and bodies with as much research-based healthy, active learning as we can, so that they are as capable as possible for their transition to kindergarten.
What about conflict resolution?
Resolving conflicts is one of life's most important skills. At Gretchen's House we use a six-step process to solve problems and resolve conflicts. Children are active participants in resolving issues with their peers. They learn to brainstorm for solutions, to communicate their own needs and to listen to the needs of others as a part of the conflict resolution process. These are all skills that will help them grow and develop as communicators as well as caring people.
How will I know my child is on track?
Gretchen's House assesses children's development with comprehensive tools rather than narrow tests, using the HighScope Child Observation Record (COR). Observing a broad range of behaviors over several weeks or months gives us a more accurate picture of your child's true capabilities, than tests administered in one time sessions. Two times a year the teachers review their observation notes and score each child at the highest levels he or she has demonstrated on 30 items in six areas of development: initiative, social relations, creative representation, movement and music, language and literacy and logic and mathematics. Children's COR scores help teachers design learning opportunities tailored to the children's level of development. The COR is also a great tool to help you understand the progress that your child has made during the year.
Where can I get more information on developmental issues, the Gretchen's House approach and family suggestions?
Gretchen's House Purple Pages Developmental Newsletters are a great resource for parents and families.
Additional helpful resources can be found under the "Parent Resources" menu on the left.