Selecting the Right Preschool

Do you know how to choose the best preschool for your child? This is an extremely 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.

Perform your research and determine 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, inquire about the school’s policies, cost, curriculum, safety precautions, licensing and staff. There are numerous factors must be taken into consideration before choosing a final selection.

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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 teachers either. Get as much information about each person that could possibly come into contact with your child.

Usually credible preschools will have either papers or brochures that supply information about the academic credentials of its teaching staff. Also, if the school claims to have 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 is advantageous for your child. Do the teachers have the right training and experience to properly teach this program? Or, do they just have generic 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 plenty of supervision. This is an issue for both academic and safety reasons. For instance, if your child must have continuous supervision and the adult to child ratio is rather large, then a smaller environment might be better 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 ideal for them. For instance, many parents need a school with a convenient location and a convenient choice of hours.

What type of hours and location are you looking for? Some preschools have early hours where you can drop off your child and get to work 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, other preschools 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 taken into consideration. Make sure that your child fits in with a suggested program. Does she need a structured setting? Or, is she a free spirit that does not like to have too much supervision? These are all essential questions that you must ask before picking out a preschool for your child.

School Safety

How safe is your chosen preschool? What sort of safety parameters 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 scooping up your child? How are you certain that a mix up will not happen? Many schools have guidelines 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 reference to 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 suddenly?

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 most people. But as a parent, you know that they are essential when it comes to the safety of your child’s school setting.

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The Cost

Can you truly afford a preschool? According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the average cost 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 extreme 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 expert knowledge. In addition, the school has to offer 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 a lot cheaper than many other preschool programs in the state. Determine if your state has this type of program.

Curriculum and Policies

Obviously, every preschool is not going to be the same. It is your job to investigate and make comparisons. First of all, comprehend the differences between daycares and preschools. There are notable 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 best for your child. Find out if the school’s philosophy is ideal for your child’s current stage of development.

Communication should also be a big concern. How will the preschool communicate with you? Is there an open door communication policy? Can you converse with the director whenever you have a concern that needs to be dealt with? A preschool should never have a problem with parents dropping by unannounced 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 instance, can children bring outside foods? This is extremely 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 handle behavioral problems? These are all things that you should know before picking out a specific child care center.

Licensing

Find out how long your top 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 is required to have a license if they have more than a established amount of children registered. A preschool has to not only meet the standards established by the state to receive licensing, but it also has to uphold those standards in order to get the licensed renewed annually.

Your state will have a listing of the licensed preschools in your neighborhood. Most will even have a listing of those child care centers that have obtained 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 determine if the school is qualified and has met the standards to remain open. These lists will have the information that is needed.

Summary

In conclusion, 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 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 best way to choose the right school is to investigate, compare and visit area preschools until you find a suitable choice.