Choosing the Ideal Preschool

Do you know how to choose the best preschool for your child? This is an extremely frightening task for most parents, especially if your child has never had any other type of childcare other than yourself. It is a transitional period, but by selecting the most suitable preschool for your child, it does not have to be a disruptive time in your child’s life.

Perform your research and ascertain what each preschool in your area has to offer. Then compare them and select the best preschool based upon items such as your child’s requirements and your needs. Also, ask about the school’s policies, cost, curriculum, safety precautions, licensing and staff. There are plenty of factors must be taken into consideration before selecting a final preschool.

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Personal Preferences

When selecting the right preschool, there are also factors that can impact you personally. Parents need to find a school that meshes well with their personal schedule. They have to account for dropping their children off at a certain time and also for picking them up at a particular time. The school has to have scheduled hours that work well for them. For instance, many parents need a school with a convenient location and a convenient selection of hours.

What sorts of hours and location are you expecting? Some preschools have early hours where you can drop off your child and get to work in time. It also makes it less difficult for you to work the regular work day and pick up your child once you get off from work. However, others have regular school hours, which clashes for most working parents.

In addition to the parent’s personal needs, the child’s needs should be accounted for. Ensure that your child fits in with a suggested program. Does she have to have a structured setting? Or, is she a free spirit that does not like too much supervision? These are all important questions that you must ask before choosing a preschool for your child.

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The Cost

Can you truly afford a preschool? According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the average price of preschool is about $300 to $1000 per month. This might be less affordable in larger urban areas. Some parents complain about the expensive cost, but the goal is to find the best program for the least amount of money.

Realize that preschools have academic programs that cost more than regular daycare centers. Many of the adults on staff are educators that command high salaries for their expert knowledge. In addition, the school has to supply learning resources that go along with these teachings. This may be in the form of educational toys and the most recent electronic gadgets. A quality education can cost a lot, even when children are at a young age.

However, some states have less expensive preschool choices. For instance, the state of Georgia has a lottery funded preschool program. There is usually a waiting list, but it is less expensive than many regular preschool programs in the state. Find out if your state possesses such a program.

Staff

Ask for information about the preschool’s teachers and staff. Ensure that the school performs the right background checks on each employee. This should not be restricted to just the teaching staff either. Get as much information about each person that might come into contact with your child.

Usually credible preschools will have either papers or brochures that supply information about the academic credentials of its educators. Also, if the school claims to have certification in a specific academic program, ask to see how the program operates. Since preschools with these sort of programs are usually more expensive, you want to know exactly how it is advantageous for your child. Do the educators have the right training and experience to properly teach this program? Or, do they just have general training? Sometimes the preschool director has the certification, but the teachers have generic training.

Get the adult to child ratio. Understand that not all adults on staff are teachers. Children need plenty of supervision. This is an issue for both academic and safety reasons. For instance, if your child has to have constant supervision and the adult to child ratio is quite large, then a smaller classroom might be best for your child.

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Curriculum and Procedures

Quite naturally, every preschool is not going to be the same. It is your job to investigate and make comparisons. First of all, learn the differences between daycares and preschools. There are many differences. For the most part, most preschools provide academic programs. There are some daycare centers with academic programs, but most just offer socialization. Only you can decide on which one is more suitable for your child. Find out if the school’s philosophy is suitable for your child’s current stage of development.

Communication should also be a huge priority. How will the preschool communicate with you? Is there an open door communication policy? Can you converse with the director whenever you have a concern that needs to be dealt with? A preschool should never have an issue with parents dropping by without an invitation to see their children in the classroom. However, you don’t want to do it too frequently and disrupt the flow of the learning sessions.

Also, don’t be too scared to ask about other school policies. For instance, can children bring outside lunches? This is very important info, if your child has food allergies and has to bring his lunch every day. In addition, ask about the school’s discipline policies. How does the school deal with behavioral problems? These are all things that you should know before picking out a specific child care center.

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Licensing

Find out how long your top preschool has been in business. Ascertain if the school or staff has received any special certifications and who provided those certifications. Then research even further and find out if that organization is qualified to issue such certifications. Keep in mind that certification and licensing is different. Preschools can be in business, but they don’t have to have any particular type of academic certification to stay in business.

Check with your state’s rules and laws concerning preschools. In most states, a child care center must have a license if they have more than a specific amount of children registered. A preschool has to not only meet the standards set forth by the state to receive licensing, but it also has to uphold those standards in order to get the licensed renewed annually.

Your state will have a listing of the licensed preschools in your neighborhood. Most will even have a listing of those child care centers that have gotten violations during the year. The state has rules that each school has to acknowledge, if they do not, the school gets a violation. Basically, you need to know if the school is qualified and has met the standards to remain open. These lists will give the information that is needed.

School Safety

How safe is your preferred preschool? What sort of safety precautions does the school have set in place? Does the preschool have an organized drop off and pick up plan? How does the school hinder predators from picking up your child? How do you know that a mix up will not take place? Many schools have guidelines set in place that force parents to fill out forms and provide identification at the time of pickup.

Also, safety is important in other preschool aspects as well. For instance, is the school properly secured in reference to things such as the outside playground, the classrooms and even the chemicals that are contained in everyday school supplies? Another safety concern involves staff supervision. Is there more than one teacher assigned to each classroom so that the children are constantly supervised if a teacher has to leave the classroom suddenly?

These are the kinds of safety issues that you should ask about and research when performing child care center comparisons. They may seem like little things to a majority of people. But as a parent, you know that they are essential when it comes to the safety of your child’s school environment.

Summary

Finally, all parents want their children to go to quality preschools. This is why it is so difficult to choose the best one. It is just a matter of researching each school’s policies, curriculum, licensing, staff, costs and safety precautions. You must also take account for personal choices as well. However, not all parents have the exact needs and expectations when it comes to childcare, and not all children are similar. All in all, the best way to select the best school is to research, compare and visit neighborhood preschools until you find an ideal choice.