Eight years ago, my husband and I decided we would sacrifice two incomes in exchange for one and the ability for me to stay home with our children. The decision was not easy, however, we felt most detrimental to our family’s needs at the time. Fast forward to today, two of my children are in Elementary most of the day and my 4-yr-old will be in preschool next year. We’re faced with either a public or private preschool program. If we choose private, how do we know it’s the best suited for my child? What should I ask?
Thanks to tips from Primrose Schools, I’ve learned my options. I even asked family and friends to recommend some local high-quality programs which, in turn, look promising after I researched them online. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve chosen a preschool for my older two before, based on recommendations of friends in Memphis, TN, when we lived there. The first impression, I know, is usually the deciding factor for parents.
Many parents say they know immediately when a school has the “right” feel. They are responding to many intangible factors, such as how they and their child are greeted, how the school smells and how their questions are answered. Experts from Primrose Schools, say once you have established your gut feeling, take the time to ask the right questions about center policies, educational philosophies and teacher qualifications. They also recommend the following five topics to help you determine if a school is going to be a good fit for your family.
1. Educational goals and philosophy: What educational philosophies and practices does the school use to guide instruction, learning methods and selection of materials? Does the philosophy fit with the values you have for your child? Is the curriculum research-based? Does the curriculum reflect what is known about child development and preparing for the transition into elementary school?
2.Accreditation: What accreditation has the child care center or preschool achieved? What quality standards are in place and how are they measured? Accreditation means a school is held accountable by an outside agency to adhere to research-based quality standards. The goal of the agency should be to ensure that their published standards are met and to drive continuous school improvement.
3. Teacher qualifications: What are the training requirements for teachers? Is there ongoing professional development for teachers? Are teachers certified in first aid and CPR?
4. Learning environment: When visiting the school or center, observe the children around you. What is the atmosphere of the classroom? Are the children engaged in organized activities and interacting with teachers and other students? Do the children look happy? Are the teachers responding to the children and talking with them not at them? Ask to see the daily schedule for the class that your child would be in, and note if this schedule is posted outside or inside of the classroom.
5. Center policies: What are the center’s or school’s policies related to safety and parent communications? Does the center meet all of your state’s licensing requirements? What would happen if your child becomes sick? What are the payment options?
As this is my third time around, regarding choosing a preschool, I will note that these tips have extended the way I look at preschool programs and prepared me for the ultimate decision will be making for next year with my youngest.
For more great tips like this, visit www.DrZandFriends.com.
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