Ready, set, school!

Published: Monday, July 29, 2013 at 12:12 PM.

The average 4-year-old child asks 437 questions a day. Take that in a moment and process that number. Four hundred and thirty seven questions within the 12 to 14 hours they are awake. Their curiosity is astounding along with their “super jet backpack” of energy reserves and the desire to master the tiniest of tasks that adults take for granted.

But mom and dad, don’t buy the earplugs just yet! Parents thankfully have a variety of local preschools with qualified staff ready to field a few of those 437 questions and provide a loving school environment to grow those “big” boy and girl personalities.

With preschools opening in less than a month, Walton County preschool directors took a break from lesson planning to share a few pearls of wisdom to new preschool parents. Some offer a “trick of the trade” for making home life a tad easier while others provide tips for a smooth first day of school. All in all though, our community is fortunate to have a group of educators so passionate about the littlest of our clan.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. “The most important skill to utilize in working with young children is the act of showing respect.  This is the ‘Golden Rule’ in teaching,” says Maureen Paine, the director of The Tree House Episcopal Montessori School. “Children appreciate being treated with respect and will respond accordingly.  We find that it is best to treat children the way you would want to be treated, or even better, the way you would treat a personal friend.”

Practice saying “goodbye” before the first day. “It would be wonderful if every student could separate easily from their parents without any tears,” says Robin Vaughn, director of Santa Rosa Beach Community Church Preschool. “Of course, we know this is a normal part of development, but this learned skill would make the first day and week less stressful for the parents.”

Storytelling skills go a long way. “My own bag of tricks is usually telling stories and singing songs that only I know,” says Maria White, director of Creative Learning Center. “I'm famous for my version of ‘The Three Pigs.’ I also have the ability to create great interaction with my off the wall open ended questions.”

Give Choices. “My biggest trick of the trade is giving the child choices.  In Montessori, we give the children choices within reason, thus empowering the child. This allows them to see that they control their environment,” says Catherine Beall, Head of School at South Walton Montessori Academy. “Each of their choices has a consequence, whether positive or negative, and it is up to them to decide which choice to make and how to deal with the consequences of that choice.”

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