Three factors to consider when choosing a preschool
Every experience with a first child is new. You’ll read articles, take classes and get advice from your friends or parents. But there will still be times when you wonder if you’re really doing everything that you should or doing it correctly.
One early-development responsibility you’ll need to address is preschool. Over the past few decades, preschool enrollment has gradually risen as parents have learned the important foundational benefits of early social and educational experiences. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 43 percent of 3-year olds and 66 percent of 4-year-olds attended some sort of pre-primary program in 2014. These figures are both 10 percentage points greater than the same statistics in 1990.
When you’re comparing programs in your area, it can be overwhelming. But once you sort out the right questions, you’ll be able to make a smart decision for your child.
Time and location
The first thing you’ll need to consider is how the preschool fits into your routine, Get Ready to Read pointed out. Is it on your way to work or near your home? Is it open on the days and during the hours you’ll need child care? Determine these basic facts early on to see if the preschool will work for your family.
Repetition and consistency are important factors in teaching your child new skills. Because of this, you’ll want to find a preschool that shares your views on how to teach and treat children. For example, you might ask about their discipline methods.
It’s important for your child to learn certain behaviors, like how to share, wait their turn and express emotions. Children will inevitably make a misstep or two, and the teacher will have to address the conflict somehow. Ask about certain situations that could come up and how they will be handled, Parents Magazine suggested.
Another key aspect of finding the right fit for your child is evaluating the different educational philosophies. Some common philosophies include:
- Waldorf, which emphasizes imagination and participation.
- Montessori, which focuses on each individual child’s progress without drawing comparisons between classmates.
- Reggio Emilia, which encourages exploration and creative thinking.
- Faith-based, which might be held in a church or synagogue and largely emphasizes the values taught in that religion.
Staff experience and education
When you drop your child off for the very first time, you need to be certain he or she is in good hands. Don’t hesitate to ask about who will be working with your child and their qualifications. Ask whether staff have been trained in CPR, first aid and, if the class will be taking trips to pools or the beach, lifeguarding.
Learning about other parents’ experiences with the preschool would also help you make an informed decision. Ask if the school can provide any references. Also, ask other people you know who have children, like co-workers, family or friends, which preschools they considered and why.
Choosing the right preschool can seem like a tough decision. But once you find the right fit for your child, you’ll be able to move forward confidently knowing your son or daughter is getting a rich educational and social experience.