Finding the Right Preschool
Do you know how to find the best preschool for your child? This is a tremendously 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.
Do your research and find out what each preschool in your area has to offer. Then compare them and choose the best preschool based upon items such as your child’s needs and your wants and dislikes. Also, asek about the school’s policies, cost, curriculum, safety precautions, licensing and staff. There are plenty of factors must be taken into consideration before choosing a final preschool.
When selecting trying to find the right preschool, there are also factors that can affect you personally. Parents need to find a school that goes 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 specific time. The school has to have scheduled hours that are perfect 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 easy 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 clashes for most working parents.
In addition to the parent’s personal preferences, the child’s needs should be accounted for. Be certain 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 to have too much supervision? These are all important questions that you must ask before picking out a preschool for your child.
Can you really afford a preschool? According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the average cost 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 learning programs that cost more than standard daycare centers. Many of the adults on staff are educators that command high salaries for their expertise. In addition, the school has to supply learning resources that supplement these teachings. This may be in the form of educational toys and the latest electronic gadgets. A quality education can cost a lot, even when children are very young.
However, some states have cheaper preschool options. For instance, the state of Georgia has a lottery funded preschool program. There is generally a waiting list, but it is more affordable than many regular preschool programs in the state. Determine if your state has such a program.
How safe is your preferrered 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 stop strangers from picking up your child? How are you certain that a mix up will not occur? Many schools have protocols set in place that force parents to complete 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 every classroom so that the children are constantly supervised if a teacher has to exit the classroom at the spur of the moment?
These are the sorts of safety issues that you should inquire about and research when perfoming child care center comparisons. They may appear like little things to many people. But as a parent, you know that they are important when it comes to the safety of your child’s school environment.
Ask for information about the preschool’s teachers and staff. Make sure that the school performs the appropriate background checks on each employee. This should not be limited to just the teaching staff either. Get as much info about each person that might come into contact with your child.
Usually credible preschools will have either papers or brochures that provide information about the academic credentials of its teachers. Also, if the school claims to have certification in a specific academic program, ask to see how the program operates. Considering that preschools with these types of programs are usually more expensive, you want to know exactly how it will benefit your child. Do the educators have the right 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.
Find out about the adult to child ratio. Realize that not all adults on staff are teachers. Children need a lot 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 rather high, then a smaller setting might be more suitable for your child.
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 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 get licensing, but it also has to maintain those standards in order to get the licensed renewed annually.
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 gotten violations during the year. The state has rules that every school has to acknowledge, if they do not, the school receives a violation. Basically, you need to determine if the school is qualified and has met the standards to remain in business. These lists will have the information that is needed.
Curriculum and Guidelines
Obviously, every preschool is not going to be the same. It is your duty to investigate and make comparisons. First of all, understand the differences between daycares and child care centers. There are numerous differences. For the most part, most preschools provide 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 curriculum is suitable for your child’s existing stage of development.
Communication should also be a huge priority. How will the child care center communicate with you? Is there an open door communication policy? Can you speak to the director whenever you have a problem that needs to be dealt with? 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 frequently and mess up the flow of the learning sessions.
Also, don’t be too timid to inquire about other school policies. For example, can children bring outside lunches? This is tremendously important info, if your child has food allergies and has to bring his lunch on a daily basis. In addition, ask about the school’s discipline policies. How does the school solve behavioral issues? These are all things that you should know before selecting a specific child care center.
Finally, all parents want their children to go to quality preschools. This is why it is so hard 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 choices as well. However, not all parents have the exact needs and expectations when it comes to childcare, and not all kids are similar. All in all, the most intelligent way to select the best school is to investigate, compare and visit area preschools until you find a suitable choice.