Classroom Learning Preschool Options

I am located in Charlottesville, which is by no means lacking in preschool options.  When we initially researched programs for our oldest daughter, we looked at numerous options because enrollment numbers presented the real concern.  At the most sought-after locations, based on both reputation and location, some wait lists are two years long!  Three different programs stand out:  Mountaintop Montessori, Molly Michie Cooperative Preschool, and Foundations Child Development Center.


When we explored Montessori locations, we did so at the urging of a prior colleague of mine, who was a former educator and raised both of her boys in the system.  That was a solid seal of approval!  Similar to Santrock’s (2013) description of the approach as one which gave children “considerable freedom and spontaneity in choosing activities” (p 279), she felt that this ‘no boundaries’ approach allowed her children to receive educational enrichment while also having the space they needed to mature.  (Apparently, the Montessori school had a special play area designated for her son, who liked to shed his clothing while coloring – considerable freedom, indeed!).  Ultimately, we decided that our daughter would benefit from the structure of a more traditional environment.  However, I love many of the values they express on their website, in particular the idea of ’embracing risk and failure to yield creativity and innovation’.  This is reminiscent of Carol Dweck and the benefits of a growth-mindset.


Molly Michie Cooperative Preschool was appealing in that it was a nurturing, family environment.  Santrock (2013) expresses the importance of parents who take part in their children’s learning, and this experience would have provided a very real and concrete way to do so.  Parents take turns leading classes and volunteering throughout the day.  Unfortunately, with full-time jobs we would not be able to take advantage of this kind of set-up.  The school’s mission statement explains that ‘One of the tenets of a cooperative school’s philosophy is that parent helpers, under the supervision of professional teachers, bring a special element to the classroom’ and that this ‘offers parents the unique opportunity to observe and participate in their children’s preschool activities.’ In fact, parents ‘operate’ the school and are involved in every aspect of their child’s education’ which teaches them how to ‘advocate for all children more effectively.’


We settled on Foundations Child Development Center, a more traditional environment.    The curriculum is individually paced, and focuses not only on ‘what is learned’ but on the concept of being a ‘learner’ and approaching knowledge with curiosity.  There is a focus on healthy, home cooked meals every day, and a guaranteed physical fitness block (even in colder weather) to ensure children are active and engaged in a healthy lifestyle.  We find that our daughters are very comfortable in the environment, and are provided additional enrichment, such as Music Fridays with ‘Mr. Mike’ and extracurricular art classes, field trips, etc.


Foundations Child Development Center.  Retrieved March 01, 2016, from


Mission & Vision.  Retrieved March 01, 2015, from


Mollymichie.  Retrieved March 01, 2016, from!parent-involvement/c1kv1

Santrock, J. W. (2013). Children. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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