7 Things to Look for in a Preschool Program

Childhood education

Entrusting someone to take care of your child all day while you are at work is terrifying and stressful. Your child is probably the single-most important part of your life, putting the center of your entire world in the hands of another person is nerve-wracking.

On the other hand, there are a lot of benefits to putting your child in an affordable child care class that participates in accredited early learning programs. These types of programs provide a child with independence, socialization, and early life skill development and have been proven to give children high success rates in grade school and beyond.

So how do you find an affordable child care program that also gives your child a quality preschool education? The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)created a list of standards that all high quality early education programs should embody:

  1. Relationships

    One of the most valuable skills that a child will pick up from a child care program is socialization. A good early education promotes relationships between the teachers and the children, and between the children themselves.

    What to Look For:

    • The teacher makes a particular effort to connect with your child during initial visits and orientation.
    • The environment involves free play in which children work together on projects.
    • The teacher guides children through conflict resolution instead of physically disciplining them for misbehavior.

  2. Curriculum

    A high quality, affordable child care program will have a curriculum focused on the following key concepts: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive.

    What to Look For:

    • The teacher or administrator can offer you a defined curriculum based on those areas of learning, or similar concepts.
    • Teaching is presented through play and exploration, which sparks a child’s love of learning. Children are not required to sit still and pay attention for long periods of time.
    • The teacher works with kids in small groups and individually, so that each child’s interests and strengths are fostered.
  3. Assessments
    A high quality early learning program will regularly review your child’s progress and the program is flexible enough to make changes where it is best suited for the child.

    What to Look For:

    • There is a set process for review of a child’s progress in the key areas of development (social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive).
    • Teachers follow-up with parents on each child’s progress on a regular basis.
    • The curriculum is flexible enough to make changes so that all children can be successful.
  4. Safety
    Your child’s health and safety is the most important part of a great affordable child care program. You should feel confident in your child’s safety before leaving them at a child care center.

    What to Look For:

    • Teachers and staff have first-aid certification.
    • The environment is regularly sanitized and hand washing is promoted throughout the day.
    • There is a defined protocol for handling injuries or illnesses immediately.
  5. Credentials of Teachers
    The childcare providers should have specific training in early childhood development and are not treated as glorified babysitters.

    What to Look For:

    • Teachers have an associates degree or a certification in early childhood development.
    • Ongoing education on early learning is provided to teachers after they are hired.
    • Teachers work in teams to develop lesson plans, instead of being expected to create it on their own.
  6. Family Collaboration

    The child will get the best learning experience through a partnership between the school and family.

    What to Look For:

    • A clear and regular channel of communication between the teachers and families, such as email.
    • Teachers and parents meet several times throughout the year to discuss the child’s experience and goals.
    • Parents are encouraged to participate in every aspect of the child’s education.
  7. Physical Environment

    The actual environment the child spends the day in should be safe, organized and designed to promote the goals of the program.

    What to Look For:

    • The classroom should be arranged with a variety of centers that children can choose from that promote learning through play that interest them.
    • The teacher should be able to see and hear all of the children at all times, regardless of where they are in the classroom.
    • There should be a play area where children and explore and learn outdoors, but is securely enclosed so that children cannot get out.
  8. These indicators will help you choose a good childcare program for your child, however the best indicator is your mama-instinct. No one knows the best fit and environment for your child better than you.

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