Finding a 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 picking out 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 find out 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 needs and your wants and dislikes. Also, ask about the school’s policies, cost, curriculum, safety precautions, licensing and staff. There are numerous factors must be taken into consideration before picking a final selection.

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Personal Preferences

When selecting trying to find the right preschool, there are also factors that can influence 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 specific time and also for picking them up at a particular time. The school has to have scheduled hours that are perfect for them. For instance, many parents need a school with a convenient address and a convenient choice 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 your place of employment in time. It also makes it convenient for you to work the regular work day and pick up your child once you get off from work. However, child care centers have regular school hours, which would not work for most working parents.

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

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Licensing

Find out how long your chosen preschool has been in business. Ascertain if the school or staff has gotten any special certifications and who provided those certifications. Then dig deeper and find out if that organization is qualified to grant 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 has to have a license if they have more than a specific amount of children registered. A preschool has to not only meet the standards established by the state to obtain licensing, but it also has to uphold those standards in order to get the licensed renewed each year.

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

School Safety

How safe is your chosen preschool? What kind of safety controls does the school have set up? Does the preschool have an organized drop off and pick up plan? How does the school hinder strangers from scooping up your child? How are you certain that a problem with pickup 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 example, 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 problem involves staff supervision. Is there more than one teacher assigned to every classroom so that the children are always supervised if a teacher has to leave the classroom at a moment’s notice?

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

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Curriculum and Policies

It is no secret that, 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 numerous differences. For the most part, most preschools have academic programs. There are some daycare centers with academic programs, but most just provide socialization. Only you can decide on which one is best for your child. Find out if the school’s program is suitable for your child’s existing stage of development.

Communication should also be a huge concern. How will the preschool communicate with you? Is there an open door communication policy? Can you talk to the director whenever you have an issue that needs to be addressed? A preschool should never have a problem 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 scared to inquire 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 each day. In addition, ask about the school’s discipline policies. How does the school solve behavioral problems? These are all things that you should know before choosing a specific child care center.

Preschool Staff

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

Usually credible preschools will have either files or brochures that provide information about the academic credentials of its teaching staff. Also, if the school claims to have certification in a particular academic program, ask to see how the program works. Since preschools with these types of programs are generally more expensive, you want to know exactly how it is beneficial for your child. Do the educators have the correct training and experience to properly teach this program? Or, do they just have basic training? Sometimes the preschool director has the certification, but the teachers have general 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 must have constant supervision and the adult to child ratio is quite large, then a smaller environment might be best for your child.

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 fuss about the extreme 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 standard daycare centers. Many of the adults on staff are educators that command high salaries for their expert knowledge. In addition, the school has to provide learning resources that go along with these teachings. This might 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 less expensive preschool alternatives. For example, the state of Georgia has a lottery funded preschool program. There is normally a waiting list, but it is less expensive than many other preschool programs in the state. Find out if your state has this type of program.

Conclusion

In conclusion, all parents want their children to attend 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 into consideration personal needs as well. However, not all parents have similar needs and expectations when it comes to childcare, and not all children are the same. All in all, the most intelligent way to select the best school is to research, compare and visit neighborhood preschools until you find an ideal choice.