Choosing the right preschool may seem like a daunting task for many parents as they determine the right path to begin their child’s early education journey. This may be the first time your child will be receiving care outside the home or entering into a structured learning environment, making the pursuit of the perfect preschool all the more overwhelming. With this important family decision in mind, we share the following tips to help you find the right preschool for your child.
Begin your decision-making processes by making a list of factors most important to you in providing the best quality care and education for your child. Depending on the age of your little one, start with identifying your child’s emotional, physical, social, and academic needs. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What age appropriate early education curriculum would enhance or help achieve your child’s developmental milestones?
- What type of infant care or preschool programing is offered?
- What type of environment does your child thrive in?
- What type of learner is your child?
- What type of schedule works best for your family
Next, make a list of characteristics that your ideal school would offer as a starting point to seek out information from family and friends. Those you know best often share similar values and goals and can offer valuable insight by referencing their own experiences. You should get a feel for an organization’s reputation, their teaching philosophies as well as how they challenge and nurture their students.
Once you have a few referrals, research the internet and local guides to broaden your perspective. Most sites will have plenty of information about the school, its staff, its programs as well as policy summaries. By looking at photo galleries, news clippings, social media and videos, you can further narrow down your search options with those that appeal to you.
With your “short list” of institutions that fit your criteria, contact those schools to schedule an appointment to conduct a tour. Be sure to take notice of the following:
- Does the atmosphere appear to be organized, energized and fun?
- Is the staff friendly and helpful?
- Does the staff engage with the children and do they seem interested?
- Do the students seem respectful, well cared for and happy?
- Is the facility clean and safe?
- Does the facility have any unique features?
During the tour try to meet as many of the staff and teachers as you can to determine whether your child will feel comfortable. Children often exhibit a special awareness and react to experiences. Schedule a “trial day” if offered. Following a tour or trial day, ask him or her about their impression of the school. Even if they are too young to articulate their feelings, you can still get a sense by observing their natural responses.
After visiting all of the preschools on your “short list”, review your findings and trust your intuition. One preschool will stand out above the rest as the right fit for your family to grow with. Ultimately, it is this connection that will assure you that you have found the right place to create a happy and healthy environment prepared to inspire your child to be a life long learner.