How to successfully transition your child into preschool or child care
There are many different types of child care programs out there, and ...
While some may overlook its importance, preschool lays the groundwork for your child’s education. The most important way this is done is by helping children develop social and emotional skills that they’ll use for the rest of their life. When done correctly, this moment in early childhood education can be the force behind the momentum needed to form a well-rounded child, one poised to make strides in academic achievement down the road. So when thinking about how to choose a preschool, there’s a lot to consider. Here are the things that should be taken into consideration when researching preschools.
The first step in choosing a preschool is finding out the options available in your area. This also means doing due diligence. This tool breaks down the state preschool and child care regulations and helps you confirm whether the preschool you’re considering meets these requirements. This includes things such as the preschool’s program license, registration or certification, and inspection history.
A lot of writing and studies around education focus on classroom size, and for good reason. The more one-on-one attention your child receives, the better off they are to have their development needs met and any gaps addressed. Smaller classes also mean more time that preschool teachers can spend interacting with and observing children, and less time spent managing the classroom, making it an all-around more optimal setting for learning. Certain types of preschools pride themselves on small classroom sizes. Microschools, for example, harken back to the days of one-room schoolhouses, with a mix of ages and with classroom sizes ranging anywhere from 4 to 15. Family child care programs (also know as in-home preschool programs) also typically have small group sizes. While you shouldn’t get too bogged down by the numbers, you should make sure to ask about classroom size and teacher-student ratios when learning more about your preschool options.
The price of tuition for preschool is obviously another factor when considering where to send your child. Most states offer publicly funded preschool, and government spending on early childhood education has increased in recent years. However, this is a state-by-state issue, so your access to a quality public preschool depends drastically on where you live and may also vary by your family’s income level. Private preschools, on the other hand, widely vary in price, with the average monthly tuition ranging from $350 to $1,200 per child. While childcare and preschool can end up being a financial strain, there are some resources and programs that are designed to help offset these costs that you should look into.
One consideration to consider when choosing a preschool is what type of teaching style you’d like for your child. Every school has a different approach to rating a child’s learning performance and how much they value fostering creativity, so it’s important to take some time to understand the different practices preschools implement. Certain words used in a school’s name will give you some indication. For example, Montessori schools focus on self-motivation and individual-paced learning and Waldorf schools place importance on teacher continuity, so children stay with the same teacher from preschool through eighth grade. There are many different approaches to early childhood education, so make sure that you understand these philosophies and how they’re implemented by your preschool.
When choosing a preschool, don’t forget to take a tour of the schools you’re most considering. You can learn a lot by seeing how joyful a space is and auditing a class to better understand how much play is used in learning. Children can learn everything from self-control, vocabulary, and pre-math skills, all without even realizing it because they’re too busy playing. Also, take note of how much physical activity your child will have at the preschool you’re considering. Remember, your child is still a kid who needs an outlet for their energy, so make sure to ask about the frequency of breaks and how much time is devoted to running, climbing, and swinging. While you want your child to take the important steps toward intellectual development, they still need to have all of their needs met, including wiggly bodies. Daily outside time is critically important, so make sure to ask how the program ensures children are getting this time as often as possible.
When you break it down, learning really relies on a relationship of trust. Because of this, in many regards, the way in which your child’s preschool teacher interacts with their students speaks volumes to the experience your child is going to have learning and growing. Positive relationships are built by teachers who do things such as get down to eye-level with their students and call them by their name. Good teachers typically help develop social and emotional skills through routine and don’t rely on discipline or speak out of anger. This can be a hard thing to discover, even when taking a tour, so consider talking to other parents who have sent their children to the preschools you’re researching.