Some Common Terms Used to Describe Preschool Settings

Child-centered
This term is often used to describe settings that take the children’s interests into consideration when planning activities. For example: in a child-centered setting, the classroom activities are based on the interests of the students, not on pre-scheduled topics chosen by the teacher. These settings often offer increased opportunities for children to choose activities throughout the day depending on their interests.

Teacher-led
The opposite of a child-centered setting is a teacher-led setting. Teacher-led often means that curriculum and supplemental activities are implemented based on a set schedule developed by the teachers in the setting. This type of setting usually provides children with a structured learning environment.

Child-led
These settings believe children learn best when they are engaged and interested in learning. Child-led settings wait for each child to initiate or ask for new activities and experiences, fostering individualized learning experiences rather than group experiences.

Faith-based
This term is used to describe preschool programs that are run through faith organizations such as churches or synagogues, according to their faith’s philosophies.

Co-operative
These settings often ask parents and families to assist in the running of the preschool. Parents and family members may build community by signing up to volunteer during the week, or by assisting in the day-to-day management of the preschool as well as helping with advertising, upkeep and fundraising.

Developmentally Appropriate
This term means the preschool plans the curriculum and activities based on activities that are appropriate for the age of the children in the class.

Pre-kindergarten (pre-K)
Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with preschool. In general, a pre-K program is one that has children enrolled in the year before kindergarten, usually at age four. These settings are often more structured than traditional preschool settings.

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