Choosing a preschool for your child can be a challenging process. You want the best for your little ones, but the number of options can seem overwhelming. Information online can be confusing or sparse. It can be stressful if you’re not sure where to start. Since every family has different needs, we suggest you look at preschools that are best for your situation and your family only. In this article, we’ll explore a number of key pieces so you can choose a preschool that’s best for your family.
The first thing you should consider is the preschool’s location. Would you prefer that your child’s preschool be close to home or work? This decision helps narrow your options. You’ll want the preschool to seamlessly fit into your life, this way it’s easier to make drop-offs and pick-ups in a timely manner. You’ll likely end up regretting choosing somewhere inconvenient after only a few days.
Preschool is your child’s first introduction to structured learning, so how the staff approaches education will make a difference on how they help shape your child’s life. Research the educational philosophy for the preschools you’re considering. Preschools often follow a particular philosophy, so it’s best to understand what you want before making a decision.
Faith-based education will include biblical teachings. Montessori-based education focuses on the development of your child as an individual, meaning that everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Waldorf education is founded on developing a child’s intellectual, practical, and even artistic skills in a specific way by using their senses. Find out whether the preschool will be child-centered, child-led, teacher-led, or co-operative.
You also need to look at how a preschool disciplines their students. Do they use punishment or do they focus on helping the children learn to self-regulate? The type of discipline will significantly impact how your child develops, so it should be on your list of things to consider. Help-based discipline will help your child develop strong communication skills and conflict resolution.
Look at how many children there are for each teacher. If the ratio is too high (such as 30 children per teacher), your child won’t be able to benefit from as much one-on-one time. The amount of control a teacher has in the classroom will get out of hand much more quickly. It can be hard enough to care for one three-four year old child; imagine having to manage dozens every single day. Look for a preschool with low teacher-child ratios and avoid places with extremely high ratios to make sure your child is in a healthy learning environment that supports their development.
How your child spends their time in preschool is important. Kids are young and have a lot of energy, so they need to move around a lot! At this age, playtime is a great way to learn, so look at a typical schedule for each of the preschools you’re exploring.
If your child needs special medication throughout the day, make sure you find a preschool that is qualified to administer it. This should be talked about both before you join a preschool and with the teacher before attendance starts. If only the parent is permitted to give their child medicine, such a policy is probably not going to be very convenient for you.
Ask for Recommendations
If you’ve looked into all of these things, it’s time to start asking for others’ opinions. Talk to your neighbors, friends, or family members to see if anyone has recommendations or even if they’ve had bad experiences, since that, too, is valuable information. Getting some outside opinions is a good way to see what the preschool will really be like and how other children have reacted by going there. If you can’t find recommendations from people you know, check online. There are a ton of forums, blogs, and communities that will provide you with honest advice and helpful resources.
Planning a Visit
Finally, it’s time to plan a few visits. Once you’ve narrowed down a few options, get in contact with each preschool and schedule some time to visit the school. Be prepared with any questions you may have and be as observant as possible while you’re there. If you find a preschool that you love and that seems like a good fit for your family, congratulations! If you don’t, keep looking. You don’t have to settle for something that doesn’t fit into your family’s values and needs.