Your little one is toddling, talking, and taking on the world. Filled with curiosity and creativity, your child needs the level of stimulation and structure that preschool provides. Studies show early education to be a key steppingstone to academic achievement, as well as social and emotional development. Preschool ensures a head start on critical thinking and fine motor skills, plus the basics like ABCs and 123s. It teaches your child how to function in a school setting and play well with others. With so much at stake, it’s important to select the right preschool for your child.
Start by writing down everything that matters to you.
Your list might include teacher-to-student ratio, daily naps, healthy snacks, ample free play, an outdoor environment, safety, classroom instruction, or toilet training. You may also consider the school’s curriculum, rules, schedule, diversity, cost, religious affiliation, and educational philosophy.
From there, craft the questions you will ask and the boxes you need to check before feeling certain you’ve made the right choice.
What is the educational background and experience of the teachers and staff? How much playtime do the children have each day? Does the school offer music and foreign language lessons? Is there a strong focus on art, reading, math, or science? How does the school handle discipline? Is parent involvement required or encouraged?
Consider logistics. Is the cost of the preschool within your budget? Is it located near enough to your home or work that you can conveniently drop off your child there each morning and pick them up each afternoon?
Research all of the preschools in your area. Look at school websites for more information and scout online communities for reviews from other parents. Arrange site visits and arrive prepared with your list of questions. Be sure to take careful notes.
Plan to do the initial visits without your child. Investigate whether the school offers play areas for blocks, puppets, drawing or coloring, and tactile materials such as sand or water. Find out how much time the children have to spend at these play stations and consider whether this would suit your child. Be sure to peruse the school’s selection of books and other learning materials.
Talk to the director and the teachers. Are they experienced and qualified? Do they enjoy their work? Tour the entire facility. Does the school look and feel inviting, clean, and safe? Observe children in the classroom and at play. Do they seem engaged, or are they bored? Imagine your child there. Would your son or daughter adapt and thrive? Would he or she be challenged and happy?
All of this work and research should narrow your choices to two or three schools. Now, schedule follow-up visits with your child. Watch their interactions with other children and teachers. Observe your child at play, in classroom settings, and at outdoor areas. Spend enough time to determine whether it’s right. Then, give preschool a try. Your careful planning will give your child a place to learn and grow, preparing for kindergarten and beyond.