Parent: What kind of standards do you use to inform your teaching? What can I expect my child to focus on in one full year?
Cortland: Many parents want to take a more active role in understanding what the State of Illinois Early Learning Standards are and how we (and every Illinois preschool) use these standards daily in our classrooms. You can print a full copy HERE for your records and better understanding, and I would encourage you to read them and share them with your caregivers as well–you can augment classroom learning experiences at home in a unified manner while enjoying a better understanding of age-appropriate learning.
State-mandated standards articulately and intelligently speak to all of the learning domains we work on at school daily (in our daily lesson plans) as children develop up to Kindergarten. Teachers have a separate set of standards for Kindergarten, and each grade following thereafter. Preschool standards have always been available on our blogsite (see the Standards tab above) but you can always google them (State of Illinois Learning Standards, insert grade level here) and follow along each year as the children rise through each grade level. This will help you better connect with them as students and also better connect with their teachers, as you’ll be aware of the expectations and benchmarks for learning development.
Parent: Some programs guarantee that my child will be reading or doing math to a certain level by a certain age. What’s that all about?
Cortland: We would be wary of any program “promising results”–every child develops cognitively at a different rate and uniquely. While there are baseline “norms”, all children have “dips and spikes” in different areas, depending. A real-world example: a gifted child may be reading at a 5th or 6th grade level at age 4 (and with demonstrated comprehension) but may find it difficult work to hold a pencil or other implements and write his or her name or draw / trace precisely (low fine motor.) The spike is the reading / phonic/ decoding ability, the dip is the fine motor.
As teachers, our job then becomes what is called “differentiated learning”–identifying each child’s academic “dips” and working to boost these low areas, while feeding the “spike” and keeping them challenged in above-average areas. This is what makes what makes teaching dynamic and exciting! We work to unite a child’s particular love-passion-interest with the work of the standards, so a genuine love of learning is fueled (and rote seat work is kept to a minimum.)
To better inform our older 3-day families and our 5-day families, you’ll see at our next round of conferences that summer is a time where we focus on math and language arts assessments. You’ll have a better picture of your children’s strengths and achievements, and also where they stack up when compared against State Standards.
Parent: What can I do to be involved in my child’s schooling? I don’t feel like I’m connected.
Cortland: It’s important to remember that preschool, like elementary school and beyond, is very much an equation–the time you put in connecting to your child’s education, you will get back in results of equal or greater measure. At Cortland Preschool, resources for getting / staying involved include:
-reading eNews and notes sent home
-regularly reading and sharing the classroom blogsite with your child
-Facebook posts at Cortland Preschool and Tutoring
-attending parent-teacher conferences
-reading parent handouts
-learning about the State Standards online, on your conference forms, and/or by asking for more info
-attending parenting sessions and events (GRASP Group, Tertulia, Book Club, etc.)
We provide these opportunities for busy parents to stay connected and better informed. It is important to find out what each new school will provide and/or expect parents to regularly attend to.
You will continue to be your children’s greatest advocates for excellence in schooling by continuing to ask questions that help you gain greater understanding. As you move forward, continue asking great questions–What can I do to support my child’s learning in the home? Where is my child struggling? Excelling? What kinds of experiences can support my child in these areas? What resources do you recommend? Good teachers work with parents as a team and want to work in complementary ways. What is your child excited about? How can we all work together to support your child’s self-directed interests and ideas?
We are always happy to talk with you at length, provide supporting articles or documentation, etc. with regards to the education of preschoolers. Thanks for asking great questions!