Often people will ask me how to go about finding a "good" preschool. I give them the tips that my many years in the field have taught me make for a good preschool experience. I want every family to have a wonderful preschool experience so I would like to share them with you too.
Animal is a year old, so right now I would be putting him on several wait lists in hopes of getting into my first choice when he turns two. Two, I believe is the perfect age for most children to begin their preschool years. At two, children do a lot of growing and learning. Choosing a good program allows you to capitalize on this time.
Putting your child on wait list, well before you need care, will give you the amount of time needed, to choose the right place for your child and your family. If you will be returning to work soon after the birth of your child, then you would be doing this while pregnant.
Doing your homework.
1. Google, yelp, but most importantly, ask around. Ask friends, family, and neighbors. If they really like the school their child attends, then ask them what they like about the preschool and what they don't. Do they love the staff? Is it clean? Ask about anything that really matters TO YOU. If it's really important that the school be nut free vs. nut sensitive ask about that.
If you hear the same name over and over that's a good sign, but not a guarantee that it will be the right fit for you. Remember that every family is unique and just because your best friend loves a place doesn't mean you will.
2. Be honest with yourself. I know that can be really hard, but it will be even harder for you and/or your child if you lie about what matters to you. If you are not honest about what you want in a preschool. What you can afford. What hours you need. What you want your child to gain from this experience. Then you could be faced with having to remove your child from a place and people they love.
If you really need a break, to save your sanity, to clean the house, to further your education or you have a job then don't choose a co-op where you will have to put in hours of work time.
If you are an atheist, don't choose a non denominational christian school.
If you are on a tight income don't choose a school that offers a lot of extras for a nominal charge.
If you don't want your kids watching TV, don't choose a school that shows videos on a daily basis.
If your child cannot sit still, has no attention span and NEEDS to talk, don't choose a Montessori.
If you really want your child to have structure and you expect them to leave preschool reading, don't choose a play based school.
If you take the time to think about what you want, what best suits your family and your child, you will set your child up for success. Once you have thought about these things and researched what schools are possible you are ready for the tour.
If you found this post helpful, then stay tuned for Part 2 The Tour