When it comes time to find a preschool for your child, how will you know which one is the right one? Look for these 4 things and you’ll all be happy!
While sitting in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office, I overheard a couple of moms comparing local preschools. They each had a toddler running around the room and an infant bouncing on their laps. It seems like so long ago that I was in the same position, wondering where I would send my little ones. Preschool has become the norm for most families and the market is competitive. I remember wanting my kids to have a chance to socialize with their peers and to get a leg up on the academic pressures they would face once kindergarten started, but with so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming. Below are some tips to help you pick the perfect place for your little ones to start their school careers.
Look for Happy Teachers!
When choosing a preschool, the most important thing that you need to look for is a positive learning environment. It is easy to be impressed by the promises of learning multiple languages and fancy reading programs, but at this stage it’s all about the experience of learning. Young children need to feel safe in order to be successful. Look for a school that is very child centered. Pay attention to how the teachers and staff interact with the children and each other. It should be all rainbows and butterflies. You want to pick a school that is a happy place. This should be the most positive experience for your little guy to create a love of learning.
Play! Play! Play!
There is nothing that bothers me more than seeing preschoolers sitting at desks for extended periods of time. All of the research points to play as the most effective means of learning for young children. Your preschooler’s classroom should be full of opportunities for play and discovery. You want them to come home with paint on their hands and play-doh in their hair. Look for art stations, sand/water tables, dress up areas and games around the room. Ask the school how much time is devoted to play. Great early childhood educators know how to incorporate learning into art, stories and games. Your child will learn more this way than by studying flash cards and worksheets.
A Lot of Creativity Goes a Long Way
Teachers who work with young children are usually extremely creative people. They know that the sense of wonder and curiosity in young children needs to be encouraged. I often hear parents talk about all of the impressive programs that certain preschools have to offer. Try not to be fooled by these marketing gimmicks. The teacher that turns her classroom into prehistoric times to support your child’s obsession with dinosaurs is worth so much more. Ask the director about her school’s curriculum. Is it interest based? Many schools will change curriculum based on the interests of its students. When kids are interested, they learn.
I cannot stress enough to parents that children do not need to be able to read to enter kindergarten. Parents feel a lot of pressure to have their children reading before school even begins. Children develop the ability to read at different ages. Your preschool should have a program in place to teach basic phonemic awareness skills. Schools should expose these little learners to words, books and letters in a fun way. Steer clear of programs that use drills, quizzes and excessive homework as a way to teach reading. This type of learning can backfire and create a feeling of avoidance for your little one.
The preschool years are a magical time for you and your child. With so many amazing choices available today, you can start your child’s school career in the most positive way imaginable. Remember, it is all about having fun!
Thanks for Reading,