By Kristen Kill
The blistery weather outside may not be screaming “new school year” but don’t let that fool you. To avoid being put on a waiting list for your top pick, right now is the best time to sign your child up for a preschool that will begin next fall.
So, how do you choose a school that will be a good fit for your child? What should you look for and what should you avoid? To aid you in your quest, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Talk with other moms you trust. Great preschools usually have a lot of buzz and you’re likely to hear about great programs from moms whose kids have been involved in them.
- Visit! Observe what the children are doing and how the teacher interacts with them. What is the feel of the place? Great preschools will purposefully create a friendly atmosphere with lots of interesting objects and toys present to engage little ones. They will also have areas and activities well suited to a child’s size and physical ability. The location should be safe, child-proofed and also offer plenty of opportunity for outdoor play.
- Look into the staff’s qualifications. Preschools should display a license and ideally staff should have specialize (and on-going) training in early childhood education and also in how to handle emergencies. A great preschool will also have a child to staff ratio that at the maximum places one teacher per seven children.
- Examine the curriculum. Quality preschools offer children plenty of imaginative play time and build this into their routine. Exploring their world through play, reading aloud and creative projects should shape the child’s day. Early academic pursuits like letter and number recognition and learning to write their name are also built into a curriculum for this age level.
- Check out the National Association for the Education of Young Children on their website www.naeyc.org for further resources and referrals.
Remember that preschool is a place designed to allow your child to begin experiencing new things as they develop a love for learning. You ultimately know what is best for your family and your child, so trust your hunches and happy hunting!