5 Things to Look for in Your Search for the Best Preschool
The benefits of pre kindergarten education have been articulated in numerous studies, and enrolling your child in a great preschool program can allow your child to get a jump start on learning while still allowing you to maintain your career. But how can you find the best preschool for your child? Here are five things to look for in your search for the right early education center:
- A Well-Rounded, Play-Based Curriculum
Preschool has been shown to contribute to significant academic gains for children later in life, but that doesn’t mean preschools should be miniaturized versions of the older grades. Preschoolers learn best through a well-rounded curriculum that uses games and fun activities to address the skills underlying math, reading and social interaction. An environment that is too structured or overuses worksheets, drills and tests are likely to stress children out, not help them learn.
- Educated and Highly Qualified Teachers
There are very few regulations regarding who is allowed, by law, to teach preschool. That means it’s largely up to individual schools to make sure they’re hiring qualified teachers. Before picking a preschool, be sure to ask about the education levels and experience used as standards for hiring teachers.
- A Strong Teacher-Parent Connection
When we think about children learning, we typically focus on the school environment. But the home is equally important, and that’s why a strong connection between preschool teachers and parents can benefit your child so greatly. The best preschools will find ways for you to be as involved as time permits in your child’s education.
- Kind and Consistent Discipline Methods
At the preschool level, kids are still learning about social expectations and appropriate behavior, which means correction will inevitably be necessary at times. It’s important, however, that you choose a preschool with discipline procedures that are designed to fix bad behavior without shaming or isolating children — while it’s OK to label actions as “bad,” your child is likely to act out even more if he or she is labeled as a “bad” kid. Keep in mind that a school with clearly established ground rules in other areas (such as pick-up and drop-off times) may be better at demonstrating consistency than schools with a more laissez-faire attitude.
- A Good Fit on Practical Matters
Educational philosophies and such are an important part of preschool, but you shouldn’t get so caught up in those aspects that you forget more practical ones. Does the preschool build naptimes into the schedule? Will it accommodate a child who isn’t potty trained yet, or even help with potty training? Will your child’s allergies be a problem? Is there an extended hours program in case you need to work late? It’s good to know what your options are up front.
Do you have any thoughts to add on early childhood education in general, or finding the best preschools in particular? Join the discussion in the comments.