Within the field of Early Care and Education, there is not yet one standard set of terminology to describe different program types. To ensure consistency within the Wonderschool team, and transparency to parents and potential teachers, Wonderschool has developed its own working definitions of the following:
Child care program: A program in which children ages 0-5, and sometimes school age, receive quality care from a consistent child care provider. Although the provider may not be trained in a specific philosophy such as Reggio Emilia or Montessori, they have opted to partner with Wonderschool and showcase their commitment to quality through an intentionally constructed environment, a conscious rhythm of the day that has been developed by them to best meet the needs of the children in their care, and receiving ongoing support from the Wonderschool team.
Infant/Toddler program: A program caring specifically for children ages 0-2. A child care provider in this type of program typically (but not always) has specialized training or education in the care of infants and toddlers, as well as a passion for working with this age group.
Preschool program: A program tailored for children 2-5 years old, centering around a specific learning philosophy or curriculum such as Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Emergent/DAP, OR a play-based program implemented by a teacher with formal experience working in a licensed child care/preschool/educational setting. A preschool program director should be able to define their program’s philosophy and describe how it’s implemented into the daily rhythm of their day, as well as what their qualifications are to direct this type of program.
Forest school: A program for children ages 2-5 that takes place in rich, stimulating outdoor environments like forests or woodlands. Forest school is both a physical place and pedagogy; the curriculum is fluid, focusing on learner-led, hands-on play that encourages curiosity and exploration. There is typically a high provider-to-child ratio, and providers are often trained in outdoor education.
We hope this provides some clarity in terms of the different programs run within our network of preschools and child cares. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.