Preschool should be a wonderful experience for you and your child. But where to start on your journey choosing the right one to meet your needs?
“Start by examining the basics” says Jennifer Wana, author of “How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Getting Into, and Preparing for Nursery School.” “Looking at practical considerations ¬¬– such as location, cost, minimum enrollment age, your child’s personality and your educational goals — will help you identify the programs that best suit your family.”
Following are some basic steps to help you in your journey:
Identify Your Priorities
What, specifically, are you looking for in a preschool? Does it need to be near your home or workplace? Are you looking for a specific approach to learning? Do you want extra-curricular activities or a faith-based approach?
Schedule a Tour
Asking preliminary questions over the phone, such as fees or policies, is fine, but to get a true sense of the preschool and its staff you need to visit in person. Ask the director about everything from tuition to discipline philosophies to daily schedules.
Check the teacher to child ratios and class sizes. Observe how the children and teacher interact with one another. Does the teacher appear to be warm, caring and encouraging? Curriculum is very important, so be sure to inquire about it and the level of experience the teacher has. Find out if there is a high rate of staff turnover. Children need consistency and will not have that in a preschool with constantly changing staff. You will also want an environment that is clean, safe and feels inviting.
Child Test It
After you select a preschool, take your child to visit. This will allow you to observe how they interact with the teachers and if they seem comfortable in the environment.
Positive word of mouth can be the best endorsement. Ask around to find parents who have/had children in the program to get their feedback.
Trust your initial gut feeling! If you feel good and comfortable after visiting a preschool, it is probably the right place for your child.
Pam Filbin is the Director of Wesley United Methodist Church, Mother’s Morning Out Preschool. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-595-1855.