More and more parents see the value in sending their kind to preschool programs in the United States. The number of kids who were aged three to five years old increased from 59% to 65% between 1990 and 2013. The good news is that this is great for the kids. The bad news is that this may make finding the right preschool harder than in “the old days.” Fret not! You will be able to locate the best, local preschool program for your family with these tips.
Start looking early. Sometimes when parents are thinking about how to find a preschool for their family, they underestimate how long it will take and also what the waiting lists may be like. A lot of this will depend on where in the country you live. For some areas, the wait time is very long and the process to get in can be long. Start looking into this before you think you need to.
- Talk to people who live near you. You have friends, family and coworkers who live near you and have children. Talk to them about what they did when their kids went to preschool. It is important to talk to people who live near you because of the many factors that are different in each part of the country. If your search is for “preschool Fort Lee NJ,” talking to your friends and family in Florida may not really be able to help you.
- Decide what you really want. Think about what you think you child’s take away messages should be from the preschool program you pick. This should be based on your philosophy on child learning but also what you think your child needs the most. Some preschools may have more or less a focus on socialization, academics or arts. What you want your child to get from the experience will play a large role in what school they should attend.
- How close does the school need to be? You may want to look for schools that are near your home or your workplace. This can be another big factor in finding the right preschool for your child and your needs. You should take some time to write down any and all of the different criteria you will need for the school your child attends.
- Check out the schools in person. When you are working on finding the right preschool, nothing will replace an in person visit to the facility where you can see what the place looks like, meet the staff and get a general sense for how the kids are treated and how happy they are. No amount of online research or phone calls can take the place of going out and seeing how things are done for yourself. You will feel better with your choice if you have done this.
- Ask the right questions. Here are a few:
- How are the teachers and staff hired? You should feel comfortable with the way they recruit the people who work there.
- What kinds of certifications do that have? This is similar to the first question but not the same. You need to make sure the people who will be working with your child have the educational background to be effective.
- What kind of turnover rate do you have? In the best case scenario, people love working at the preschool and the turnover rate is low. This is important for a few reasons. Your child may have some anxiety when they first start the program. If the staff keeps changing, that will not help their stress level. Also, happy workers are better workers. You want the people who are teaching your child to be happy about what they do and where they do it.
- Do they appreciate your religion? If religion is important to you, you do not need to find a religious school but you should be comfortable knowing your religion will not be disparaged at the school.
- What are the disciplinary policies? Many psychologists recommend the carrot vs. stick approach to child discipline but you really just need to make sure the philosophy does not contradict your own.
Finding the right preschool takes work and effort but is possible.