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The Search for the Perfect Preschool

Developing your little Einstein's confidence and critical thinking shouldn't include an over-the-top Tiger Mother approach.

How do you choose the right preschool? It feels a bit like finding the right spouse. So many factors go into the decision, and the search is exhausting. There is no magic answer, only how well the shoe fits.

Here in Los Angeles the preschool options are broad. Learning models include Montessori and Reggio Emilia, along with religious and developmental centers. On my quest to pick a place perfect for my little Einstein, I’ve discovered some insight into my parenting style and my child’s personality. Both are important to consider when deciding whom to enlist as a daily caregiver and educator.

On mornings when my son insistently plays hide and seek in the nude instead of walking out the door fully clothed, I remind myself to “bend like bamboo,” picturing the swaying branches in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a heroine poised above. In lieu of forcing my will against a defiant 3-year-old, I set the timer on my iPhone, signaling a gentle transition and dive into the mad chase. Buzzer rings and with that, little Einstein magically returns to cooperate and put on his wardrobe. My mantra has served me well on many occasions, so when I began touring preschools, I looked for one with similar, consistent principles.

The Montessori approach is often misinterpreted as too rigid, but for my child, the organized and calm atmosphere, (relatively speaking—it is preschool after all) has resulted in noticeable concentration and adaptation to new experiences. The idea behind Maria Montessori’s philosophy is to promote confidence through independent choice and observation of one’s peers with mixed ages. Students learn to push in their chairs and place their work in the appropriate place upon completion. Although it sounds strict, these mindful tasks actually promote personal responsibility and accomplishment. In an over-stimulated world, a Montessori classroom offers refuge to young minds. 

Montessori programs are located at Beverly Hills Montessori, Montessori Children’s World and Sunset Montessori. Parent and me classes are offered at .

Fortunately, there are many paths to creating bright offspring. One recently has made headlines: Amy Chua’s penned phenomenon Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. She credits her daughters’ success to ruthless mothering tactics and stringent discipline. Many parents sharply disagree with her end-to-justify-the-means approach.

Although there is no room in my book for shaming kids into practicing piano or crafting the perfect Mother’s Day gift, there is something worrisome about the over-parenting, Westerner approach that Chua decries in her book. The helicopter-hovering-mama-grizzly parenting model denies children the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and fight their own battles, which, of course, I have been guilty of on many occasions.

That’s where the benefits of preschool come in. Social interactions and independence from parents can be a fruitful opportunity to challenge and trust kids to be just that—kids. It is a risk we take as parents, but one that I believe strengthens our youth.

In the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy started by Loris Malaguzzi and Italian parents after World War II, the principles are respect, responsibility and community. These are taught through exploration and discovery in a supportive environment based on the interests of the children. This curriculum is available locally at Temple Israel School of Hollywood and the Waltham School next to Plummer Park. 

If you are a parent beginning or already deep within the preschool hunt, take a deep breath and know there are options with a range of tuition fees here in West Hollywood. A good preschool does not necessarily mean an expensive one. Take the time to sow the seeds of a solid education for many seasons to come.

Bay-Nimoy Early Childhood Center

Temple Israel of Hollywood

7300 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90046

(323) 876-8330

www.tioh.org/study/nursery/

 

Beverly Hills Montessori

1105 N. Laurel Avenue

West Hollywood, CA  90046

(323) 650-2922

www.bhms.org

 

The Center For Early Education

563 North Alfred Street

West Hollywood, CA 90048-2512

(323) 651-0707

www.centerforearlyeducation.org

 

Fountain Day Preschool

1128 N Orange Grove Ave.

West Hollywood, CA 90046

(323) 654-8958

www.fountaindayschool.com

 

L'Chaim Daycare

7636 Santa Monica Boulevard

West Hollywood, CA 90046-6409

(323) 650-8118

 

Montessori Children's World

650 San Vicente Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone (323) 677 - 2670

www.montessoricw.com

 

Sunset Montessori Preschool

1432 N Sycamore Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90028

(323) 465-8133

www.sunsetmontessori.com

 

Tiny Tot and Tot Time programs

West Hollywood Park

647 N. San Vicente Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90069

(310) 659-2485

 

Walther School

1246 N Gardner St

West Hollywood, CA  90046-5616

(323) 876-4715

 

West Hollywood Preschool 

7377 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

(323) 850-3090 

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