Preschool forms the roots of your child’s education and the beginning of their lives interacting with others outside the comfort of home. Choosing the right preschool is an important part of preparing your child for life. It’s the foundation for starting a good education, something that can have repercussions for years to come.
With so many options for children, how can you pick the right one? Here are some things to consider.
One of the most important things to consider — and also something that can have a dramatic impact on cost — is the experience, training and qualifications of the preschool’s educational staff.
Some preschools are almost indistinguishable from day care centers, where children will have a safe place to spend time but not necessarily a rigorous academic foundation. Others focus more on learning specific skills and knowledge taught by fully qualified and certified teachers with college degrees.
Neither philosophy is necessarily wrong, as some parents don’t want to rush their young kids into academic rigors, while other parents are all about giving their kids an early start from educational pros.
The important thing is knowing exactly what training, higher education, experience and certificates are held by your child’s teacher. Only then can you decide if they’re a good match for your expectations.
Length of Day
Another aspect that can vary with different preschool programs is the length of the day.
Some schools are designed around just a few hours per day, while others are full-day programs that offer more time for learning and play. Again, neither method is necessarily superior, but you should know the schedule up front and make sure it meets you and your child’s needs.
The best preschools do a great job giving your child a head start on life, and the curriculum they choose can be a big part of that foundation. Find out what curriculum materials and teaching style the school uses. Dig into the specifics of what your child will be learning, when and how. From the books they’ll be using to math basics and teaching social skills, know as much as possible about the learning process they use so you can make a better decision.
To think even further down the road, try to find a preschool that uses a recognized curriculum that will dovetail with your plans for their future education, whether in public or private schools as they get older. The schools they’ll be attending may have some good advice about curriculums that would leave your preschooler well-prepared.
Play Time Philosophy
Studies show that play time serves an important role in your child’s mental and social development. You should make sure the preschool’s philosophy about play time is a good fit for your expectations.
When structured properly, a lot of education can take place during play time when children are free to learn and explore in their own, individual ways. Ask about techniques the preschool uses to help children learn important things while having fun at the same time.
The best schools are adept at blurring that line between play time and school time, letting kids have fun but always with an eye on their development.
In the end, by finding a school with the right schedule, curriculum, staff and philosophy, you’ll be giving your child a great start toward living a happy, healthy, productive life.