Understanding Common Terms Used to Describe Preschools

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Enrolling a child in preschool can be a big step for parents, and it is not uncommon for many parents to feel overwhelmed when trying to select the right preschool for their child. There are many terms used to describe the educational approach and philosophy of a preschool, which can be confusing for parents who don't know what the different terms actually mean. If you're in the process of selecting a preschool for your child, understanding the following terms can make the process much easier:


A preschool that utilizes a teacher-led philosophy allows teachers to create a set curriculum as well as supplemental learning materials. The lessons and speed of learning is based on the curriculum designed by the teachers working at the school. This type of philosophy often promotes more structure, which can be useful if you have a child that thrives on having structure and routine in his or her life.


A child-centered preschool typically has qualified teachers who are experienced at teaching preschool curriculum, but the actual curriculum schedule is not set in advance. Instead of planning the weekly curriculum for the school year in advance, a child-centered preschool will learn more about the interests of the children in a preschool class. The lessons taught will then be tailored toward the different topics that everyone has shown interest in learning.


The child-led approach differs from the child-centered approach in a few ways. A preschool that believes in child-led learning will wait for a student to show interest in a specific topic or activity, and lessons will be developed around what the child wants to learn. A child-led preschool tends to focus more on individual learning experiences as opposed to group learning experiences.

Developmentally Appropriate

A preschool that is described as being developmentally appropriate creates lessons and activities based on the age and skill levels of the students. These schools can be very nurturing and provide support for young children who may have developmental delays or disabilities. In some cases, the cost of attending a developmentally appropriate preschool may be subsidized by social programs.


A faith-based preschool is typically operated by a church, synagogue, or other religious institution. These preschool provide early child education, but lessons and activities may also be centered around the religious beliefs of the institution operating the preschool. If you and your family have strong ties to your faith, a faith-based preschool may be a great fit for your child. 

For more information, contact a business such as Small World Early Learning & Development Center.