Finding the Best Preschool

The choice of where your child goes to preschool might be one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. A preschool is more than just a daycare, it’s the first experience your child will have with a formal school environment. Of course, it’s rare to find a truly “formal” preschool, but it is important to consider what skills your child will learn from the school you eventually pick. Today, many preschools have gone beyond the standard social skills and now prepare children for a kindergarten curriculum that includes basic math and reading. That means you’ll find a lot of places with a focus on letters, writing, counting, and concepts such as shapes and colors. If you’re currently looking for a preschool for your child, make sure to consider these questions before making a decision.

 

Frequently Asked Questions ( 8 )   Add a Question

  1. What type of curriculum is taught to the kids?
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    There are thousands of different ways that a preschool can be organized and there is also a lot of variation in programs. Familiarize yourself with some of the most common curriculums, such as Montessori, Common Core, and Classical, then ask a lot of questions about what is being taught.
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  2. How many children are in a class?
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    Many parents feel that small classes are the best fit for their child, but this can dramatically raise the price of a school.  Some schools economize by hiring teacher assistants for particularly large groups, which can be just as advantageous.
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  3. How often do the kids have free play time?
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    This question will give you an idea of how structured the school day will be.  For preschoolers, it’s generally a good idea to have at least equal amounts of free play and structured play, but a school with too much free play might not have a rigorous curriculum.
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  4. How well are the teachers trained?
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    Some may only hold your state’s equivalent of a childcare license, while others may hold a teaching degree. Schools that hire only certified teachers will tend to be very expensive, so many schools cut costs by placing one or two certified teachers in a building and allowing other teachers to only hold a childcare certificate. Even certified teachers might not be trained in a particular curriculum or program.  
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  5. How much time do the kids spend outside?
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    Also consider the quality of the outdoor area provided. Young children need to be able to explore and have physical recreation in order to do well in school.  
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  6. What happens when a child is sick?
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    While all schools will require parents to keep a sick child at home, they will have different definitions of what is considered to be a healthy child. If your child frequently runs low grade fevers, then you might want to consider a school with a more liberal wellness policy.
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  7. How well does the school schedule fit with your family schedule.
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    Pre-schools have wildly different schedules, but many of them offer before and after care that can be a big benefit to working families. Be sure to consider the cost of all the care your child will need, however. It might be cheaper to find a part-time school and hire a babysitter or private nanny than pay for extended care at some schools.
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  8. How is discipline handled?
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    While it’s incredibly rare to find a preschool that allows spanking, there can be a big difference in the way discipline problems are handled among schools. Some schools have a high tolerance for acting out, while others have strict no tolerance policies for many behaviors.
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