Choosing a preschool for your child is stressful. It may be the first time you’ve put your child’s care in the hands of someone you didn’t know well. It may cost you a good chunk of money, and your child will be spending a lot of time there. It can be overwhelming and you may not know where to start. We have some tips for you on choosing the right preschool for your child.
- Ask other parents you know who have kids in preschool.
You can reach out to friends, family, a parenting group you are part of on social media, or neighbors. Don’t stop at asking for a recommendation. Ask what they do and don’t like about the school. What they find important about the school may differ from you what you find important.
- Ask your pediatrician or other service providers.
Pediatricians spend all day talking to parents. Your pediatrician has probably heard a lot of feedback on the local schools. In addition, pediatricians are knowledgeable about child development and can put the feedback they hear in perspective.
Your child may have other service providers as well, such a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech-language pathologist. Like your pediatrician, these professionals are a great resource.
If you’ve never stepped foot in a preschool (at least not since you were IN preschool), then you may not have any idea what to ask when determining which school is the right fit for you. Here are some suggestions:
- What accreditations do you have?
Not all preschools have accreditations and not being accredited doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t a good school. Accreditation just means they have voluntarily met standards and requirements set by an independent organization, such as the NAEYC.
- What qualifications do the teachers have and what is your teacher turnover rate?
The more training teachers have, the better able they are to manage their classrooms well. This leads to happier students but also happier teachers. Happier teachers stay longer and form better connections with their students and families.
- What kind of curriculum do you have?
Preschool-age children learn through play. They are also very active. A preschool’s curriculum should reflect this by including plenty of indoor and outdoor playtime. Preschoolers also need guidance in developing their social and emotional skills so look for those things to be addressed as well.
It’s impossible to know how you will really feel about the school until you’ve been there yourself. Brooklyn Preschool Seneca Village Montessori school recommends paying a visit!
Here are some things to look for.
- How do teachers talk to the kids?
Teachers should be getting eye-level with the kids, taking their time to listen to the kids, and helping them find the words they need to express themselves.
- What are the kids doing?
As mentioned above, kids should be playing. Look for kids to be engaged with toys, crafts, each other, and the teachers. Be wary if you see a lot of kids climbing the walls, being destructive, and physically fighting. These kids are bored and are not being given appropriate guidance.
- What do the rooms look like?
Rooms should be clean. If the kids are playing there will be some mess and chaos. But the overall appearance of the room should be clean and tidy. Look for student artwork on the walls, a variety of appropriate toys, and keep an eye out for safety hazards.
Reading through the parent handbook before deciding on a school will prevent unpleasant surprises. The handbook should cover policies such as discipline, illness, vacation, tuition, and school hours.
You may find yourself in a position where a person or people are pushing you in a direction you don’t feel comfortable with. If something about the school doesn’t feel right, then listen to your gut. You may not be an expert on preschools, but you are an expert on your child. Only you will know which school is the best fit for your child, and for you.