What to look for in a preschool

What to look for in a preschool

If you plan on looking for a preschool for your child, here are a few guidelines and questions you may want to consider before making your final choice.

Photo Credit: Daniela Andreea Spyropoulos
By Tammy Vela

When your child reaches a certain age, whether you are a stay-at-home parent or not, you may start to think about sending your child to preschool. Preschool is a great way for a child to learn to interact with other kids his age, as well as get a head-start on basic lessons (colors, number and alphabet) that would normally be learned in kindergarten. If you are considering allowing your child to attend preschool, here are a few things you may want to stop and consider.

Unless you live in a small town, there are usually a number of preschools in your city to choose from. Talk to other parents that you know to see if they have any recommendations for preschools to look into or avoid. The reputation of a preschool will be key in your search. If you have heard from more than one source that a certain preschool has had its own share of problems, you may want to avoid this preschool altogether.

Although you will always be the main disciplinarian and educator in your child’s life, you are, in a sense, turning over some of those titles to the preschool, at least for a portion of the day. Be sure to get a sense of the preschool’s mission statement and teaching philosophy. You may be leaning more towards sending your child to a school that caters more towards the academic aspect of learning, so you may not want to enroll your child in the preschool that has fewer academic lessons and more creative activities.

Once you have narrowed down your list of potential preschools, ask if you can sit in on one of the classes for a few hours so that you get a better idea of how the educators teach and guide their classrooms. This will also let you get a glimpse of a typical day your child will soon be having. Pay close attention to the teachers. Are they little more than discipline figures meant to keep the class under control, or do they seem to take a genuine interest in the children learning a new skill? By visiting the school, you will also be able to find out what the typical student-to-teacher ratio is. Fewer students to a teacher mean your child will get more personalized attention, which is always a great thing.

Nutrition is also an important factor. If you keep a healthy fruit-filled pantry in your own home, you will not want to send your child to a school whose idea of a nutritious lunch is a hot dog covered in chili and cheese coupled with greasy fries. Also, it is a good idea for a preschool to combine indoor educational activities with outdoor fun activities designed to keep a child active and healthy.

Find out from the teachers and staff if there are frequent parent/teacher conferences that will allow you to see how your child is progressing in this new situation. If you sense that the teacher sees parents as more of an interference or annoyance, you may want to reconsider sending your child to his/her classroom.

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