Choosing a 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 kind 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 disruptive time in your child’s life.

Perform your research and ascertain what each preschool in your city has to offer. Then compare them and select the best preschool based upon things such as your child’s needs and your preferences. 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 selecting a final preschool.

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Staff

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

Usually reputable preschools will have either documents or brochures that supply information about the academic credentials of its teachers. Also, if the school says that it has certification in a particular academic program, ask to see how the program operates. Considering that preschools with these kinds 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 basic training.

Determine 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 needs continuous supervision and the adult to child ratio is quite large, then a smaller classroom might be more suitable for your child.

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Personal Preferences

When choosing the right preschool, there are also factors that can impact 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 certain time and also for picking them up at a particular time. The school has to have scheduled hours that are feasible 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 expecting? Some preschools have early hours where you can drop off your child and get 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, child care centers have regular school hours, which is not a good fit for most working parents.

In addition to the parent’s personal requirements, the child’s needs should be accounted for. Be certain that your child fits in with a particular program. Does she require 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.

Licensing

Find out how long your top preschool has been in business. Ascertain if the school or staff has earn any special certifications and who provided those certifications. Then dig deeper and find out if that organization is qualified to authorize such certifications. Keep in mind that certification and licensing is different. Preschools can be in business, but they don’t have to possess 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 is required to have a license if they have more than a certain 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 maintain those standards in order to get the licensed renewed every 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 receives a violation. Basically, you need to know if the school is qualified and has met the standards to remain in business. These lists will provide the information that is needed.

Curriculum and Procedures

Quite naturally, every preschool is not going to be the same. It is your responsibility to investigate and make comparisons. First of all, comprehend the differences between daycares and preschools. There are numerous differences. For the most part, most preschools offer 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 concern. How will the school 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 disrupt the flow of the learning sessions.

Also, don’t be too timid 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 on a daily basis. 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 particular child care center.

School Safety

How safe is your chosen preschool? What type of safety parameters 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 do you know that a mix up will not occur? Many schools have rules 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 instance, is the school properly secured in terms of 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 types of safety issues that you should inquire about and research when making child care center comparisons. They may appear 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.

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 in the range of $300 to $1000 per month. This might be even more expensive in more populated 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 regular daycare centers. Many of the adults on staff are educators that command high salaries for their expertise. In addition, the school has to offer learning resources that go along with these teachings. This might be in the form of educational toys and the latest electronic gadgets. A quality education can cost money, even when children are at a young age.

However, some states have more affordable preschool choices. 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 private preschool programs in the state. Find out if your state possesses this sort of program.

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Conclusion

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 looking at each school’s policies, curriculum, licensing, staff, costs and safety precautions. You must also take account for personal needs as well. However, not all parents have similar needs and expectations when it comes to childcare, and not all kids are similar. All in all, the most intelligent way to pick out the right school is to investigate, compare and visit neighborhood preschools until you find the perfect choice.