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  • On Choosing a Preschool, Expert Says “Children should Have Choices”

    Dr. Thomas Armstrong on what makes a good preschool, assessing your child’s readiness, and how gadgets aid in learning.

    SP: Is there any particular teaching method that fits all or majority of the criteria you mentioned?

    TA: “I don't think there's any one approach. There's no one school model that I would say, "That's the one you need to follow." And it's good, because there's a variety then for the parent to consider. You have choices.”


    SP: If you are to assess your child on his readiness to go to a formal school, what would the criteria be? 

    TA: “Well, certainly their ability to socialize is a factor, to get along with others, their sense of self sufficiency so that they can spend several hours outside of the home where they're not totally dependent on their parents, where they don't go into deep crying or depression if they're isolated from their mothers, for example. That's a big issue for some kids.”


    SP: In the Philippines, a small percentage of kids are homeschooled but that number is growing,thanks to advocates. What are your thoughts on homeschooling?


    TA: “I've talked with parents of children who have special needs who weren't fitting into the school and who were getting very frustrated and feeling negative about themselves, feeling like they were stupid, and having social problems with their peers. And in an environment like that, I thought it was much better to get out of that environment and into a more positive environment.

    A homeschool environment, if it's structured in a stimulating way, where the love of learning, exploring, making choices, and being introduced to the world with passion and vitality is given importance -- that kind of environment can be just absolutely wonderful for a child.  There's nothing about homeschooling that's going to put kids at a disadvantage. If they form bonds with other homeschooling families, they can have events that can involve the kids with each other. That can be solved."

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    SP: What elements would make for a good homeschooling environment?


    TA: “Every learning environment has some sort of structure, but [it has to be] an appropriate structure for the developmental level of the child. That would mean intriguing materials and activities and a parent who's actively and passionately involved in the process, who themselves model learning and being curious and asking questions and really getting the child excited about learning. Those are the elements that I think really make for a good homeschooling environment.”

    (Read related articles:Homeschooling in the Philippines: FAQs and Tips for Parents, Homeschooling Your Big Kid (6 to 7 Year Old), The Benefits of Homeschooling Your Child)

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