Choosing the Right Preschool
When we chose our children's pre-school, I found the world of choosing my children's education to be completely overwhelming. Everywhere I turned I received different advice. Some believed that two day was better than three day for two year olds. Others told me to find a school affiliated with a church. Still others asked me if I had researched the school's discipline policy. In the end we chose at the last minute based simply on where a close friend was enrolling her child, and even though that friend changed schools the following year, we have been happy there through six years of pre-school.
What you should look for in a school:
1. Know the Education Philsophy - My children attended a play-based preschool focusing on the education that children receive through both open and directed play. Some schools are more instructional, so be sure to ask the director about their school's philosophy and more importantly, why the school follows this philosophy. If the school you are visiting cannot answer this key question, you may want to move on.
2. Research Future Programs - When choosing a two day program for my two year old, I failed to look into what the program would look like when she was three and then four. While it may be hard to predict your child care needs years in advance, it is helpful to know what the options are in future years before choosing where you would like your child enrolled.
3. Discuss Parent Visits - Schools vary wildly when it comes to parent interaction. While some run baed on a co-op system with parents volunteering their time on a regularly scheduled basis, other schools do not even allow parents to drop in for visit or to check on their child without first calling the school. Before signing your child up for a pre-school program, be certain that you are comfortable with the school's policy regarding parent visits as well as requirements for parent involvement.
4. Learn About the Discipline Policy - I did not worry about the discipline policy when choosing my child's school until my quiet little girl was suddenly sharing stories about a little boy who punched her in the stomach and then bit her nose, breaking the skin. I was shocked to find out that the child would not be removed from the school or even her class despite repeated run ins with other children. In hindsight I would have liked to know more about the school's policies regarding children's behavior before enrolling my child. I likely would not have changed my decision, but I would have been better informed and able to deal with the situation when it presented itself.
5. Visit, Visit, Visit! - The best way to get a good feel for a school is to spend some time there. Be sure to visit both with and without your child so that you have the freedom to explore the school and also the chance to see how your child acts in the school environment. Watching my two year old toddle over to a craft table and begin playing with craft dough along with the other children was the perfect sign to me that not only had I found the right school, but that my child was ready for preschool.