Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Allen Creek Preschool’s mission? Healthy development
Allen Creek Preschool’s mission is to create a school community that supports and strengthens the parent-child
relationship for the benefit of each child, family, and the greater community.
Who is served by Allen Creek Preschool? Children 0-6 and their parents
Families come to Allen Creek Preschool from the greater Ann Arbor area and Washtenaw County. They hear about us from other parents, community guides and local agencies. Allen Creek Preschool’s population is diverse in many ways, as we seek to support families from all backgrounds and all walks of life. Every family faces challenges throughout life-–Allen Creek Preschool teaches parents and children to meet and master both ordinary and extraordinary challenges.
Why is preschool important? Foundations of learning and relationships
Experience and empirical research agree that the early years establish lifelong patterns of learning and of
relationships to others. Quality preschool programs that nurture the whole child lay essential foundations for later school success, healthy adolescence, mutuality in relationships, and fulfilled adult life. In many ways, choosing a good preschool may be more important than choosing a college.
What’s unique about Allen Creek Preschool? Parent support and education
Every parent wants to do the best job possible to raise healthy, happy children who become loving, productive
adults. Allen Creek Preschool’s programs empower parents to be more effective. Parents gain insight into their children’s
experiences and learn how to teach them to love, work, and play with pleasure.
What is an example of Allen Creek’s unique approach? Our approach to transitions
The process by which children leave the security of their parents’ presence and join the class to become joyful and productive citizens is one of the transitions that we attend to. Our goal is for the child to say goodbye from a position of strength and mastery. For some children, successful separation takes a day, for others it can take much longer.
At Allen Creek Preschool, we acknowledge and talk about the feelings involved in being in school and away from home-base for both children and parents. We make extra efforts to keep the connection between home and school visible in conversations, photos and other helpful objects. We talk about “missing feelings”, “having two feelings at the same time” and the importance of children thinking about their parents and parents thinking about their children when they are away from each other. We celebrate with children and their families as mastery of the separation becomes successful. We have found over the years that parents very often let us know how helpful our approach to transitions is to their children and to their relationships with them.*
How does Allen Creek Preschool support parents? Our team approach
Teachers, family consultants, and parents work together, so we know each child as a unique, complex individual in the context of his or her family. We offer parent group discussions, regular workshops on parenting topics, and we can make referrals for specialized help when needed. At Allen Creek Preschool, developmental specialists (our Family Consultants, who are volunteer psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and social workers from the community) visit the classroom, talk with teachers, and meet with parent groups regularly. Our Family Consultants serve as an ongoing resource to our alumni and the community through our Thoughtful Parenting series.
Who are our Allen Creek Preschool staff? Experienced and dedicated professionals
Allen Creek Preschool teachers are experienced professionals, with backgrounds in early childhood education, child
development, school psychology, social work, and arts education. Teachers serve under the supervision of our Lead Teacher Michelle Graves, M.A. Our Family Consultants are volunteer child development specialists – psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and psychoanalysts – from the community.
What are Allen Creek Preschool Family Consultants? Our developmental experts
Our Family Consultants -- volunteer psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and social workers -- observe in the classroom and collaborate with teachers. They also collaborate with parents via our twice-monthly family group meetings for each classroom. Family Consultants serve under the supervision of our Child Development Director, Ivan Sherick, Ph.D., a child psychologist and psychoanalyst.
What is Allen Creek Preschool’s curriculum? A relationship-based emergent curriculum
Each class has a relationship-based emergent curriculum, drawing upon the interests of the children and
providing mastery of developmentally-appropriate academic, social and cognitive skills. Our classroom approach draws upon elements from the Reggio Emilia, High Scope and Montessori traditions. Allen Creek Preschool’s concern for the needs of the whole child is supported by current research on early development and education. Our goal is to foster creativity, individuality, love of learning, kindness, responsibility, resilience, and self-esteem.
What is the teacher-to-student ratio in Allen Creek Preschool classes? The child-to-teacher ratio is low (class sizes are small)
Junior and Senior/Transitional Toddler (1-3 yr-olds, with parents) - 2 teachers: 8 children
Junior Preschool (3-4 yr-olds) - 2 teachers: 12 children
Senior Preschool (4-5 yr-olds) - 2 teachers: 14 children
Fives Class (5-6 yr-olds) - 1 teacher: 8 children
In addition, an arts teacher works daily with children.
How does Allen Creek support diversity? Via our commitments and our scholarships
Allen Creek Preschool is committed to supporting diversity in our local community and in the world. We actively seek to include children of all nationalities, ethnicities, languages, religions and races. We welcome families of all kinds. Our scholarship program is unique among local preschools. It is a value and goal of the Board of Directors to try never to turn a family away for financial reasons.
What does it mean that Allen Creek Preschool was “founded on an understanding of healthy child development that is based on psychoanalytic developmental principles”? Nurturing the growth of the whole child
Psychoanalytic knowledge includes rich and complex understanding of how the mind works, how development occurs, and how social and emotional development unfolds. Psychoanalytic ideas are often misunderstood as consisting wholly of what Sigmund Freud discovered about the human mind. Although Freud’s ideas continue to contribute to psychoanalytic knowledge, psychoanalytic knowledge has also been immeasurably expanded by the contributions of 4 generations of psychoanalytic researchers and clinicians studying normal development, including the growth of self-esteem, the factors that maximally build psychological strength, and the elements of optimal parent-child relationships. Modern psychoanalytic knowledge also incorporates emerging findings from fields including developmental psychology, neuroscience, and attachment theory.
Psychoanalytic developmental principles help us recognize and respect each child’s individual personality and developing inner world. We help children foster an integration of their gifts and strengths while working to help them negotiate their vulnerabilities and appreciate their differences from others. We do this with the input of loving parents and devoted teachers. As a result, teachers in later grades have let us know that they recognize Allen Creek Preschool graduates as “kind, focused, socially mature, able to ask for help, inclusive of others, and showing initiative.” Well-rounded friends and good citizens grow from this setting.
Could Allen Creek Preschool’s Fives Class Be Best for My Five-Year-Old?
Research consistently shows that five-year-olds are developmentally closer to preschoolers than to elementary school age children. That is why, not long ago, kindergarten used to be a year designed for young childrens’ needs to be eased gradually into school routines, with an emphasis on play learning and learning socialization skills. It is only in recent years, because of new ideas that have pressurized emphasis on early academic learning goals, that schools’ demands on kindergarten-age children have dramatically shifted. Unfortunately this leaves many five year olds with less time for developing the essential skills of relating with others – of understanding, negotiation, compromise and collaboration. Yet relational and emotional skill development is among the best predictors of a child’s long-term success in development.
The Allen Creek Preschool Fives Class is an excellent alternative to traditional kindergarten programs for many 5-year-olds, and for young 5s, the year can serve as a prekindergarten year. With the freedom to follow their interests and passions, young learners develop academic skills by studying things in the world that interest them spontaneously. Studies have shown that this type of learning, called “emergent learning,” is what best suits the five year old brain. If a child is passionate about birds, for example, they will want to see them, read about them, know how to write their names, draw pictures of them, categorize them, measure them, etc. In following and cultivating a child’s curiosity about a subject like birds, we are helping them develop, in a natural and unpressured way, skills of literacy, math, science, and geography, as well as beginning to find their place both in a world of nature and of other beings.
In the Allen Creek Preschool Fives Class, small class size (of up to 8 students) ensures that a productive learning atmosphere can be established in which individual ideas as well as group exchanges can be valued. Our Fives Class teacher comes to know each child well, meeting them where they are developmentally, and enabling them to reach goals that are both challenging, and pleasurable, to attain. As was recently reported in the New York Times, having a positive relationship with one’s kindergarten teacher not only is correlated with school success during that year, but it also tends to predict future school achievement as well.
* For more information on how separations are supported at Allen Creek Preschool, please ask our staff for the handouts for the transitional toddler class (2-3 yr. olds) and the junior preschool (3-4 yr. olds).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
MICHELLE GRAVES AT (734) 994-3382