Written by Angela Silva
Preschool may seem like an insignificant stage of your child’s life, but there is actually a large debate right now about the preschool availability, or lack of, for some children. In fact, President Obama has proposed legislation that would allow every four-year-old from low- and moderate-income families the chance to attend preschool, based on research suggesting its significant influence on setting the stage for a child’s future.
Although the long-term benefits of preschool can be debated, it is important that children are prepared for elementary school both intellectually and socially. Consider the following before you sign-up your child for preschool to ensure they are in an environment in which they can flourish and succeed.
Registration for several preschools opens as far as a year in advance of the starting dates, and with limited space in various facilities it’s important to get an idea of a timeframe for getting your little one set up for school. Start by locating preschools in your area that you might consider and asking around for any others you may not know about. Most of them will likely have registration dates and deadlines around the same time, so if you find another facility you like in the meantime you’ll probably still have time to get your child registered.
Decide what’s important
Not all preschools are designed the same. There are several things to consider when evaluating the quality of a preschool.
Teacher training – some preschools require advanced degrees for their educators while others might only require a high school diploma. If you have a preference about the level of education or experience of the teachers at your child’s preschool, this is something to find out.
Cost – you’ll probably be surprised to find out just how varied price can be with various preschool programs. Some can cost you more than a monthly mortgage payment. If this is a concern, you should also know that several programs offer subsidized or income-based pricing.
Religious affiliation – if you are affiliated with a particular religion or denomination, you might consider enrolling your child in a faith-based preschool where they will learn religious principles and lessons alongside their academia.
Play-centered or academic-centered – Consider how your child learns best or his/her interests. Some preschools may focus more on free-play and teaching through experiences, while others may put a greater emphasis on traditional academics with less play time. Evaluate your child’s habits and what you feel would be the best environment for him or her.
Length of school day – Are you ready to send your child away for the full day? Half-day? How about just twice a week? There are several options for how much time a child spends at preschool, which should also be considered in your research.
Restrictions – Depending on your child’s age, he or she may have certain needs that still need to be met, like help going to the bathroom. If necessary, find out if a facility of interest requires the children be potty-trained. Other things to consider are whether the programs include a naptime, age-appropriate snacks or, if your child has food restrictions, if those will be adequately accommodated.
Discipline – When arguments or problems arise, how are the children disciplined? What policies are in place regarding discipline? Under what circumstances will a parent be notified of a disciplinary problem? These are also important questions to consider, and should be discussed with the provider with your child’s behavioral tendencies in mind.
If you are new to a particular area or don’t know many other parents to get opinions from, consider finding a local Facebook group for moms in the area. These are becoming increasingly popular and are usually a great place to ask for recommendations from other moms in your area.