In most American cities, preschool education of children is a paid and expensive service. In different places, prices can vary greatly, but middle class representatives have to lay out at least 10 thousand dollars a year for a kindergarten.
The opportunity to study for free appears only from the age of five, when the child grows up to the preparatory class, which is called Kindergarten.
Our family is lucky: we live in New York, where children can attend the pre-preparatory class free of charge (in fact, it is a kindergarten) from the age of four. This program is called Free Universal Pre-K and applies to all families, regardless of income level. Children can get a free place both in the pre-preparatory class of the public school and in the private institution that participates in the program - according to the standard in the class of 20 people, they account for three teachers. I chose a bilingual private garden for my daughter, which is a three-minute walk from the house, and the reviews were very good.
Children can stay free in the kindergarten from 8 in the morning to 14: 20 in the afternoon. If parents want their children to stay in school until 18: 00, you need to pay extra - usually around 100 dollars a week. For those who live far from school and cannot bring a child by car, the cost of a school bus is added - on average, 25 dollars per week, so free gardens are not entirely free.
The daily routine looks like this:
8: 00-8: 30 - Arrive at school.
8: 30-8: 45 - Charging to music.
8: 45-9: 15 - Breakfast.
9: 15-9: 30 - Classes in a circle on a carpet (Circle Time).
9: 30-10: 35 - Lessons and games in small groups (Centers), mobile activities (choreography, yoga, zumba with visiting teachers).
10: 35-11: 35 - Walk.
11: 35-11: 50 - Reading out loud or puppet show.
11: 50-12: 20 - Lunch.
12: 20-1: 00 - Centers.
1: 00-2: 05 - Daytime sleep.
2: 05-2: 20 - Farewell, sending home.
Children who stay in the garden for another three and a half hours spend the rest of their time a little looser: afternoon tea, another walk, dancing, independent games. In our case, in the morning, all classes are held in English, and in the evenings a Russian-speaking teacher spends time with children.
The question of walking in different schools is solved in different ways: in state schools there is almost always a large playground, and private ones usually take children to the nearest park or are content with a slide and a house in the back yard. Our school has a fairly large playground - about the same size as in Russian kindergartens, but in general this is rare, and the more expensive the area, the higher the chances that children will be taken for a walk in the park on a string.
Some schools have their own kitchen, where full breakfasts and dinners are prepared, in other children they feed only cereal with milk for breakfast, and lunch should be brought along. Fortunately, there is a cook in our school, so children are provided with hot cereals and soups. On the first day I was asked if I should be monitored so that my child would eat everything - if the parents ask, they will leave the kids with a bad appetite longer and try to persuade them to finish eating.
For daytime sleep, parents should bring bedding to school. It is issued home for washing once every two weeks. In many schools, no bedding is required - to the dismay of Russian parents, children relax on mattresses without taking off their clothes, and sometimes even their shoes. That is why in advertisements of Russian gardens usually emphasize: "We have children sleep in beds."
In the class there are desks, math and reading manuals, a small library, a luminous table, a toy kitchen, a hanger with all sorts of costumes for plot games, musical instruments, tables for playing with sand and water. There are signs everywhere: “I remember that we need to clean up the toys behind me”, “I remember that I have to wait for my turn”, “I remember that you need to wash your hands before eating”. At the door of the class are photos of all students.
Calling to school is allowed only at certain hours, and parents receive most of the information through folders. Each student has a school folder where teachers put homework and letters. Correspondence is very different: the form that must be signed for the child to go on an excursion with the class, please bring an apple of a certain grade or a family photo, a monthly report on the training program, including even a list of new words and concepts for children. For example, when children studied the theme “My Five Senses”, they were told about such things as braille and sign language.
Parents should check these folders every day and make sure that the homework is done back to the folder - it will then be returned with a smiley or an approving sticker. Already in the second month of the visit, the pre-K folder of my daughter looked very funny: tattered, painted, pasted over with animals and princesses.
Homework assignments are not given every day, and they are not too complicated: paint pictures, circle letters, numbers and words, cut out, make a collage — four-year-olds do this with minimal help from their parents. No complex creative work at home is not asked - autumn crafts are created in the classroom, and not by parents at night. Nevertheless, parents are actively involved in the life of the garden: you can come to read all the children a book, bake cookies with them, or tell about something, for example, about their work, if the kids are now learning the profession.
Children have small responsibilities: someone helps to set the table (lunch helper), someone is assigned to hold the door (door holder), someone is responsible for keeping a weather diary (weather person), and someone tells everyone in the morning today's date and day of the week (calendar person). Every Monday, duties are redistributed, so that everyone has time to do every thing - and not just once.
On the subject: Why I would never give my daughter to an American kindergarten
The main method of punishment for bad behavior is time out. The raging child sits on a bench and does not play with others. There are no long time-outs, usually children need a few minutes to calm down.
But good behavior is encouraged: there are three circles in the class - red, yellow and green. Depending on the behavior, the sign with the child's name can be outweighed from one circle to another, and at the end of the day, those whose name remains on the green circle receive a small prize - a sticker, a plastic ring, a whistle or a beautiful picture.
Of course, as in any children's group, at first the students often get sick. The rules are as follows: a child cannot go to kindergarten if he has a high temperature, does not feel well or must take medication. A child who falls ill in the middle of the day will be sent to the director's office, where he will sit and leaf through books until his parents come for him, but if the situation is urgent, the teachers will call the child's family doctor. With a runny nose and cough, you can go to class, but the child should be able to blow his nose, wipe his nose and cover his mouth with his palm when he coughs.
The main thing for me is that my daughter likes it in kindergarten. She hugs the teacher goodbye, gladly tells me about her classes, calls the toys by the names of classmates and arranges holidays for them, and in the morning rushes to class, taking off her backpack on the go, which means that everything is fine.