Education Begins With Preschool, Which includes 3 Key Aspects To Always Consider When Getting Started

Trying to find the perfect preschool for your little one can be a complete and utter headache. On one hand, it is just preschool… it’s singing and dancing and playing around. Of course the ABC’s are introduced, but seriously… most of what is taught at preschool can be done at home. On the other hand, preschool can give your child a sense of independence, accountability, leadership, teamwork, and a whole lot of other skills that are crucial to a solid foundation for education. So, where does one begin when looking for a preschool? Here are the 3 main points I looked for in a preschool:

The Preschool's Reputation

This is key. Obviously, most people understand what a good reputation means for any school or business. Of course you want to check references if at all possible—word of mouth is the best form of marketing, but I’m talking more about the culture of the school’s reputation. Think about what your wants and desires are for your child. What is important to you in his or her early development. Your choice in a preschool should line up with those expectations. Is the preschool you are looking at more academic than you expected or wanted? Does your child need a little more assistance in the discipline area, or do you want a less strict environment?

Is the school more holistic in its pedagogy, or do they adhere strictly to the standardized state requirements most of us have grown to despise? It’s important to find out what their emphasis is. Do they have a good reputation for allowing children to problem solve and hold themselves accountable for their actions? To me, that is a good start for a solid foundation in life. What is the school’s reputation vs. cost? There are so many preschools that cost a bundle, but if they deliver on their promises and their reputation precedes them enough that you feel their price is warranted, then I say go for it. Money is a personal thing, and some can afford to send their 3-year-old to an expensive preschool, and others feel that that money is better spent on a savings account for college.

The Preschool's Location

This is different for everyone. Those in a bigger city usually have the commute as their first concern with location. Those in smaller towns worry more about neighborhoods. Both are valid concerns. For me, I wanted to know how much outside playground area there was for running and playing. Grass was a necessity. I also did not want to send my child to a preschool that was located in someone’s home. I don’t think there is anything wrong with people creating their preschool business in their home, but for me, I wanted my children to have a specific separation between a school environment and a living environment.

Some people love the idea of an in-home preschool. The neighborhood’s safety is always a good thing to keep in mind. No one wants his or her child to come in contact with the "creepy guy". If commuting is an issue, it’s always a good idea to check out various routes to and from work and home to see if it is something you are comfortable doing on a daily basis—not just for you, but for your child’s sake. No child wants to spend hours a day in the car.

Of course it is preschool, so there won’t be much of a curriculum per say, but there should still be something in place. Free play and singing are vital to education and early childhood development, but there should be more than that. Most preschools work on the alphabet and recognizing the upper case letters. It was important for me to have my children learn lower case too. Think about it, how many books are written in all upper case? Next to none.

It’s also fun to see them mixing up the letters as they write them independently at home. Phonics usually also make it into the curriculum of most preschools. Early math can be beneficial with the learning of sorting, organizing, and recognizing patterns. Does the preschool you are considering take their kids on field trips? If so, where do they go? What are the lessons intended for the field trips? If there are field trips, are parents encouraged to attend them too? Take a look at the number of children in the class as well. Most children at that age do better with smaller class sizes.

The number of teachers is good to note as well and how they work together. A good ratio is 1 teacher for every 10 kids. One thing that I looked for in a preschool was a Christian centered school. Every Thursday, my child attends chapel. This is not for all parents, I realize, but for me it was super important. I believe in the public education system (mostly), but giving my preschooler a chance to know the Lord was incredibly essential.

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You know what you want for your child and his or her education. There are some preschools that cost an arm and a leg, and there are preschools that have a 4 –year waiting list to get in. You need to think about all of the options and decide for yourself if that waitlist is worth it; or if the cost is worth it. It’s always a good idea to do your research before committing to a preschool—after all, that preschool will be their first school experience that could impact them in a positive or negative way setting the stage for a good or bad school career. It can be overwhelming for some, but your first priority should be your child and where he or she will thrive the most.



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