Choosing the right preschool for your child can be an overwhelming process. Every school promotes unique curriculums, competitive tuition rates, and promises of lifelong success, but how do you know if it’s the right school for your family? That being said, there are ways to make this process easier. With our tips, you’ll be able to find a program that serves your child and your family for years to come.
Above all else, your child’s safety is most important. Most preschools are licensed and thus are held to specific health and safety standards set by the state. These regulations cover everything: sick policies, building security, how much training teachers need, hygienic diapering procedures, caregiver-to-child ratios, and much more. Some programs are also accredited by religious, state, or national institutions, such as the NLSA, NAC, and more. These are good indicators that the programs are vetted as successful, safe programs that have clear curriculums and safety guidelines.
If a program isn’t licensed or accredited, or the teachers don’t have any official education or training in childcare, it’s a red flag that the program isn’t putting safety first. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions when visiting the school.
Maybe you’ve always loved the Reggio Emilia method, or maybe it’s vital that your child’s school has an environmentally-friendly attitude. Determine what is most important to you in terms of your child’s education and development, as well as the school’s curriculum, mission statement, and values, in order to avoid those feelings of being overwhelmed or fatigued by indecision (because there are a lot of choices out there!). It’s important to know that there will never be a “perfect” program, but there’s many that are pretty close, depending on what you’d like to see from the school. Overall, a program should communicate with you, put your child’s education and developmental needs first, and should be a resource for your child and your entire family.
Your child’s physical environment is incredibly important, because that’s where they will spend a good deal of their day. Are there a good variety of toys and books, appropriate for the age level? Does the room smell nice, or does it smell like dirty diapers? Are counters and tables clean and free of clutter? Is there natural light, children’s art on the wall, and imaginative decorations? Is there a safe, clean outdoor area for play Every program, regardless of how big, small, new, or old it is, should look and feel like a cozy, fun, and educational place.
Practicality comes into play when it comes to choosing a preschool. Your future self with thank you for choosing a program that is flexible with your work hours or is close to work or home. Also, keep in mind that a program’s popularity or high tuition costs doesn’t promise that it will be a good fit for your child. Every child is different!
Furthermore, many programs rely on parents to volunteer or donate from time to time. This is a good sign that it’s a community-based school that invites cooperative involvement from teachers, families, staff, management and the neighborhood as a whole! Great programs should be able to offer a level of flexibility for families with a crazy work schedule, but know that your own involvement is part of what will make the experience great for your child.
At the end of it all, what’s most important is that when you leave your child at school, you feel good about their education, environment, and safety. You should be able to leave them in the morning knowing that their teachers will love, respect and care for them. Communication should be easy. Teachers and management should be a resource for your questions and concerns regarding your child’s development. You should feel that your child’s needs are continuously met. That feeling of peace is priceless!