What to Look for When Choosing a Preschool Program
At the start of the school year, advice for parents is everywhere, especially when it comes to deciding on a Preschool for your child. It can be a lot to take in and think about. Here are some of the most important things to look for when you are choosing a Preschool program for your child:
- Look for a Preschool program with a balanced approach
You have heard so much about early academics and the need to be ‘ready for kindergarten’. At this age, your child needs:
- A strong balance of teacher and child-directed activities
- Large and small group activities
Exposure to academics and play-based learning
- Inside and outside time to move, and
- Busy and quiet moments.
Truly excellent early childhood educators know how to provide a balance in their Preschool classrooms to best meet the age and developmental stages of each child.
- Look for a Preschool program with experienced administrators and faculty
A school’s administrators and faculty are central to an excellent program. You may have heard that you should look at staff turnover rates as a key predictor, but be sure to also consider these elements:
- Length of time the administrator or owner has been involved in the school
- Look at how the faculty and staff interact with each other and with other adults, not only the children: do they model respect and positive interactions?
Excellent early childhood educators seek to build true partnerships with families. Just as they educate your child, they work hard to help educate you as parents about early childhood issues.
- Look for a Preschool program that continues to grow and evolve
Insights about brain development, child growth and development, and the social context of children’s lives continue to change. Choose an early childhood program that understands this and:
- Continues to grow and change its practices over time
- Adds new offerings (foreign languages or yoga)
- Implements new parent communication offerings
- Pilots new curriculum tools and strategies.
Well-trained educators know that they must always keep learning and growing. Access to school-supported professional development is another indicator of a thriving early childhood program.
- Look for a Preschool program by listening to your gut instinct
You know it’s not a very objective measure, but you do get a warm and happy feeling from a great school, and you know in your heart that it will be a good fit for your child. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do the staff smile and seem happy to work there?
- Do they know and address the children warmly by name?
- Are they eager to help you and answer questions?
- Does it feel like a warm and nurturing environment?
A great early childhood program is more than a building with teachers and resources – it’s a true community. Choose one that makes you feel like you want to be there–and your child will surely do the same.