Many parents begin to ask themselves, “Should I send my child to preschool?” when their child is between the ages of 2 and 3. This is a very sensitive topic for parents and shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are advantages and disadvantages to any preschool setting so it’s good to have a solid understanding of what you are looking for and what will meet the needs of your child best.
If you are a parent currently contemplating this very topic, I encourage you to gather as much information as you can before making a decision. Hop online, speak with other parents, trust your gut and be honest about what your child is and isn’t ready for.
Lastly, visit as many preschools as you can, I cannot stress this enough! When I was researching preschools for my child, I first called 24 preschools. From these initial conversations over the phone I was able to quickly narrow my searching down to only 8 that I wanted to visit.
As luck would have it, the last preschool that I visited was the one that I fell in love with and I knew it within the first five minutes I was there. The best part of this whole process has been watching my little girl blossom as a result. The self-confidence and social skills she has gained from her preschool experience is nothing I could have taught her on my own.
Driving away that first day of school had me in tears; I wasn’t sure if I was crying because I had dropped my little girl off for school for the first time or if it was because her teacher had to remind her to “wave goodbye to Mom!” This is when you know your child is ready; they may not look back because they are secure in who they are and what they are doing.
As you being to compile your list of preschools to visit and questions to ask, don’t forget to include the three following questions, they will tell you a lot about the center you are considering.
- Is the preschool licensed and/or accredited?
- It’s important when considering a preschool to know if the school is licensed. There are standards that licensed facilities are required to meet and they shouldn’t be overlooked. One of the standards includes a balanced teacher to student ratio. There should be at least one teacher for every eight to ten 4-5 year olds, and one teacher for every six 2-3 year olds. Enrolling your child in a preschool that has too many kids and not enough help can lead to a very negative experience for your child.
- Another stamp of preschool excellence comes in the form of accreditation. Being accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) requires preschools to follow strict guidelines for areas such as curriculum, teacher qualifications, class size and health and safety standards. A small percentage of preschools are actually accredited because the requirements can be too financially demanding for smaller preschools to commit to.
- What is the educational training and experience of the staff?
- Now more than ever, standards are rising for the qualifications needed to teach young children. Asking to see what form of education and experience each member of the preschool staff holds is important. Look for a head teacher that has at a least an associate’s degree related to early childhood development. Having some educational training will enrich the program your child is enrolled in. Also, a good teacher interacts with the children. The children are asked a lot of questions and are listened to. Children should feel welcome and safe in the classroom environment. A good teacher can clearly answer all your questions and does so patiently. Have the teacher tell you about a typical day and how they will communicate your child’s progress and challenges to you on a regular basis. Above all if you feel comfortable speaking with the teacher and are happy with the way the classroom is structured you are on the right track!
- How is the preschool structured and what curriculum do they follow?
- It is easy as a parent to get caught up in developmental milestones, but it should not be about making sure we are keeping up with the Jones’s kids but engaging our little ones in opportunities that will allow them to socialize and be imaginative. These opportunities help build the skills children need to become well rounded individuals. There are at least 13 formal years of more structured learning that will take place for your child, additional time if they pursue an advanced degree. When interviewing potential preschools make sure they believe in a classroom that learns through play! If you see kids cooking with blocks in a play kitchen wearing a dinosaur costume while others are smearing shaving cream on a cookie sheet, this preschool is doing something right, continue to pursue!
How did you know your child was ready for preschool and did you find the right fit?