Are you facing the joys and challenges of your little one getting ready for preschool? Wondering what things to consider when choosing a preschool?
You’re not alone, even myself having 7 children realizes there is so much to consider and take into consideration.
10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Preschool
My youngest little cherub is just a bit over 2 and as sad as I am that she is growing up I am equally excited to get back into the workforce. At least back to work during school time hours; over the years I have learned the need our children have for us before and after school.
We’ve decided to send this rambunctious girl of ours to Preschool. Now that we’ve decided the time is right, there are so many things to consider when choosing a Preschool that is right for our child. I have been down this road many times; 7 to be exact, so I thought I would share what’s important to me. The process of picking a Preschool can be overwhelming or it can be a fun and exciting beginning for your child, you and your family.
10 things to consider when choosing a Preschool
Location– If parents will be at work while your little one is in Preschool you’ll want to decided right away if you want a school close to your home or close to where you’ll be working. I’ve always opted for close to work, that way I am able to get to my child quickly in the event he/she becomes ill etc. I also like having my child close by in case I’m running late (happens more than I like to admit). If I’m running behind and the Preschool is in close proximity I won’t have to worry as much about traffic issues.
Hours/School Calendar– We must first decide if we are wanting full-day or half-day. This mostly will depend on my work schedule. Another thing to check into, is it a year round school or do they somewhat follow the State Department of Education schedule. Will I be needing early drop off or late pick up options? Will the school be flexible with what type of options we are looking into or are they a one size fits all program?
Academics vs Socialization– I like a healthy balance of striving to teach my kids a lot of different educational things while also promoting the social skills that can be learned at every age. Having a balanced curriculum is what I look for. Getting our children ready for kindergarten and making sure they will be fully equipped for whatever type of post Preschool education you are looking into. Whether it be an advanced private school education, public school or homeschooling options the type of early academics taught is key when making these later decisions. While a great academic curriculum and advancing our learning at any age is important, socialization and social skills are just as crucial. Finding a Preschool that will nurture their every need along with teaching them to “Play Nicely in the Sandbox” is one of the most important lessons that will carry with our children throughout their lives. I love the book by Robert Fulghum All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, I believe we start learning these skills well before kindergarten and use them throughout our lifetime. When looking into the academics and socialization curriculum of a school considering you child’s temperament and what school will mesh best with them is very different for each child and each family.
Word of mouth & reputation in the community– How other parents and their family’s feel about their personal experiences with a Preschool goes a long way in my book.
Meals– Will I need to pack home lunches for my child every day or does the school provide lunches? Are breakfast options available? If your child is on a special diet or has allergies this will be an important consideration. I love having meals provided for my child, it makes mornings so much easier. When checking in to what the school provides make sure it’s a healthy diet and something you would personally feed your family. If you don’t like the options in the beginning experience tells me as time goes by my comfort level won’t get any better. Some schools offer where you can buy lunch or breakfasts at your convenience, this is a great way to have the best of both worlds.
Teacher child ratio– Especially with 2-3 year olds this is a significant safety and development concern. Find out what your state staff-child ratio is. Does the school you’re looking at push it to the max or do they like to stay a little under it?
School policy with parents visitation– Does the school welcome parent involvement throughout the school year? I always look for schools encouraging parents, caregivers and family to visit as much as possible. Promoting the parents and family members to be active in their child’s education and day to day Preschool days is as vital to our little ones as it is to our relationship with them.
Faith– Are they affiliated with a church? Do they incorporate any religious values or teachings with the children? Making sure if there are any types of beliefs blended into their program that they mirror your personal and family philosophy is critical.
Outdoor play and field trips– Does the school allow for an appropriate amount of outdoor play time? I don’t care for Preschools that only have outdoor play as that tells me there is not much of a curriculum and they are more of a babysitting service. On the other hand, having downtime and free play is what makes a school well rounded. Take a good look at the school daily schedule and see if they seem to follow it without being too rigid. While it is harder and requires more staffing with our little wee ones see if there are scheduled off school grounds excursions. No matter how simple the activity, these are valuable early childhood development learning opportunities. These are also perfect times to tag along with your child.
Instinct– What is my perception when I’m at the school? I look at that gut instinct I get with the school, the environment and the staff. That “mommy sense” is probably one of the most essential factors I use when making this monumental decision with my children. Do I have a good feeling about my child being at the school? Am I excited for my child to be a part of this environment? Remember to always trust your intuition. You will know what is right for your precious little one and your family.
If you have sent your child to Preschool what was on your list of things to consider when choosing a Preschool? Are you looking into Preschools and what is at the top of your list of important considerations?
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