Crystal Cathedral Preschool / Bad experience
We chose the Crystal Cathedral Preschool based upon excellent recommendations from friends and family. Our son had just turned 3 years old, never been exposed to playing with other children without parent supervision, and we thought that the Crystal Cathedral Preschool would be a great place to introduce him to not only social skills, but a little religion, too. He already knows his ABCs, colors, shapes, can count from 1-20, and speaks well for his age. Basically, he knows more than your average 3 year old. I addressed my concerns with the administrator about him being lost in the shuffle if he's ahead of his peer group. They reassured me by telling me that all factors would be considered (intelligence, social and emotional maturity), and that things would be fine. After one month, we are extremely disappointed with the Administration of the Preschool. The vibe we felt during our acceptance interview was that they were only interested in accepting our money (how fast can we get him potty trained, how soon would we want to bring him in to five days a week). Our child was not completely potty trained, and the only spot they had for potty training involved attending 2x/week. Nothing else was open. After six class sessions, my husband and I were told that he was "ready" to go to either 3 or 5 days a week based on his potty training. We thought it was a little quick to move him to an older class that didn't accommodate potty training (3 year olds turning 4 this year), but figured that the administrators were the experts. Without thinking about his emotional and social maturity (and only thinking about monetary), they moved him over. The following week, my husband and I found ourselves sitting in the office because our son is exhibiting aggressive behavior to students and teachers. After listening to the teachers and observing the class without our son's knowledge, we quickly noticed that the teachers were not taking a proactive approach to teach him how to be social with the other children, and introduce to him skills necessary for getting along with his peers. They were more reactive to children’s actions, and just as passive with discipline.
One example I can share is that our son was reprimanded for moving a child's wagging finger away from his face. The teacher did not see what the little girl did, and basically removed our son away from the little girl and then wagged her own finger in his face to reprimand him. I told my husband to wait and see how this incident would be documented on our "daily note home" of our son's "good choices and poor choices". We had been placed on a contract to modify 2 days of behavior issues, and were now required to receive daily notes home of our son's progress. Sure enough, the incident was listed ("he hit with his hands during AM gym") but it was obvious that the teacher only saw our son reacting to what the girl did. NO mention of the girl's actions were in the note, which basically implied that our son's action was unprovoked. Something we would have believed if my husband had not witnessed the incident himself. When this was brought to the administrator’s attention the following day, the administrator told us that she did not find that action offensive, and kept interrupting my husband to "control" the conversation. Rather than discuss the issue at hand (one-sided reprimands and obvious lack of staff unity), she kept insisting that she was more concerned about red flag behaviors. I thought parent/teacher or administrator conferences were supposed to be productive discussions where parents and staff work together for the best interest of the child, not an hour of "I have been in this business for many years and know better than you."
Within a span of three days, we received four notes, one of them 4 pages long, detailing our son's actions for the day. If the school is able express themselves regarding our son's actions, why couldn't they assist with guiding him in social development? Our son was accustom to adult interaction, which is why we decided to place him in a preschool. I'm not saying our three year old is an angel, but he is three years old! This is the age where they need guidance. My husband and I would "drill" into our son's head rules he needed to remember (i.e. that hitting and kicking are not okay), but then we realized that it seemed like we were "brainwashing" him when he would reply back what the rules were. How could we continue to enforce the drill when he wasn't doing it around us, at least enforce it to the degree that we were with him? I understand repetition is important at this age, but it's not as effective as teaching him when the incident occurs.
I think the Preschool is great for children who have been exposed to regular play dates, played with other children their age on a playground or park (not just independent play). The curriculum is great, and the atmosphere is nice. For kids who have had minimal to no exposure...I highly recommend that you spend the extra money and take them to a Montessori school. It will be well worth it because their administrators have successfully acclimated children and taught them a variety of skills necessary to succeed in school and life. That's what we're going to do, and I truly believe that our son will have a better chance at success learning and mastering those skills from teachers and administrators who take the time to teach instead of concerning themselves over how many kids they can fill a classroom.