Finding the Right Preschool

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

Do your research and determine what each preschool in your area has to offer. Then compare them and pick the best preschool based upon things such as your child’s requirements and your needs. Also, inquire about the school’s policies, cost, curriculum, safety precautions, licensing and staff. There are plenty of factors must be taken into consideration before deciding upon a final choice.

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Curriculum and Procedures

It is no secret that, every preschool is not going to be the same. It is your duty to research and make comparisons. First of all, comprehend the differences between daycares and preschools. There are notable 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 curriculum is ideal for your child’s current stage of development.

Communication should also be a big priority. How will the preschool communicate with you? Is there an open door communication policy? Can you converse with the director whenever you have an issue 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 often and disrupt the flow of the learning sessions.

Also, don’t be too timid to ask about other school policies. For example, can children bring outside foods? This is tremendously 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 solve behavioral issues? These are all things that you should understand before choosing a specific child care center.

Licensing

Find out how long your favored 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 remain in business.

Check with your state’s rules and laws concerning preschools. In most states, a child care center is required to 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 get licensing, but it also has to maintain those standards in order to get the licensed renewed each year.

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

The Staff

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

Usually legitimate preschools will have either papers or brochures that supply information about the academic credentials of its teachers. Also, if the school says that it has certification in a specific academic program, ask to see how the program works. Since preschools with these types of programs are normally more expensive, you want to know exactly how it will benefit your child. Do the teachers 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 basic training.

Determine the adult to child ratio. Realize that not all adults on staff are teachers. Children need plenty of supervision. This is a concern for both academic and safety reasons. For instance, if your child needs constant supervision and the adult to child ratio is quite high, then a smaller setting might be best for your child.

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School Safety

How safe is your chosen preschool? What type of safety controls does the school have set in place? Does the school have an organized drop off and pick up plan? How does the school deter wackos from picking up your child? How do you know that a mix up will not happen? Many schools have rules set in place that force parents to fill out forms and show identification at the time of pickup.

Also, safety is important in other preschool scenarios as well. For example, is the school properly secured when it comes 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 at a moment’s notice?

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

The Cost

Can you really 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 more populated urban areas. Some parents whine about the high 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 expertise. In addition, the school has to provide learning resources that supplement 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 very young.

However, some states have more affordable preschool choices. For instance, the state of Georgia has a lottery funded preschool program. There is normally a waiting list, but it is less expensive than many private preschool programs in the state. See if your state possesses this kind of program.

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Personal Preferences

When selecting trying to find the right preschool, there are also factors that can affect you personally. Parents need to find a school that fits in well with their personal schedule. They have to account for dropping their children off at a specific 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 address and a convenient selection of hours.

What type of hours and location are you searching? Some preschools have early hours where you can drop off your child and go to the job in time. It also makes it easy 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 is not a good fit 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 particular program. Does she have to have a structured setting? Or, is she a free spirit that does not need too much supervision? These are all important questions that you must ask before picking out a preschool for your child.

Summary

In conclusion, all parents want their children to attend quality preschools. This is why it is so hard to choose the best one. It is just a matter of looking at each school’s policies, curriculum, licensing, staff, costs and safety precautions. You must also take into consideration personal preferences as well. However, not all parents have the exact needs and expectations when it comes to childcare, and not all children are the same. All in all, the best way to choose the right school is to investigate, compare and visit neighborhood preschools until you find the perfect choice.