Selecting the Perfect Preschool

Do you know how to choose 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 selecting 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 neighborhood has to offer. Then compare them and choose the best preschool based upon items such as your child’s requirements and your wants and dislikes. 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 picking a final selection.

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Personal Preferences

When choosing the right preschool, there are also factors that can influence 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 certain 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 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 your place of employment 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 would not work for most working parents.

In addition to the parent’s personal needs, the child’s needs should be taken into consideration. Be certain that your child fits in with a suggested program. Does she need a structured setting? Or, is she a free spirit that does not need too much supervision? These are all crucial questions that you must ask before selecting a preschool for your child.

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Curriculum and Procedures

Obviously, every preschool is not going to be the same. It is your duty to investigate and make comparisons. First of all, comprehend the differences between daycares and preschools. There are many differences. For the most part, most preschools offer 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 big concern. How will the school 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 addressed? A preschool should never have an issue with parents dropping by without an appointment 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 inquire about other school policies. For example, can children bring outside foods? 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 solve behavioural issues? These are all things that you should know before picking out a particular child care center.

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 larger 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 standard 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 very young.

However, some states have more affordable preschool alternatives. For example, the state of Georgia has a lottery funded preschool program. There is generally a waiting list, but it is a lot cheaper than many regular preschool programs in the state. See if your state has this kind of program.

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Licensing

Find out how long your favored 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 possess 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 set forth 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 area. 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 is given 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.

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School Safety

How safe is your preferred preschool? What type of safety parameters does the school have set in place? Does the preschool have an organized drop off and pick up plan? How does the school deter predators from picking up your child? How do you know that a problem with pickup will not take place? Many schools have protocols 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 scenarios as well. For example, 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 issue 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 the spur of the moment?

These are the sorts of safety issues that you should inquire about and research when conducting child care center comparisons. They may seem 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.

Preschool Staff

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

Usually reputable preschools will have either papers 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 sort of programs are normally more expensive, you want to know exactly how it is beneficial for your child. Do the educators have the proper 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. 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 continuous supervision and the adult to child ratio is rather large, then a smaller environment might be best for your child.

Summary

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 the exact needs and expectations when it comes to childcare, and not all kids are the same. All in all, the most intelligent way to choose the best school is to investigate, compare and visit local preschools until you find an ideal choice.