I put my daughter in preschool when she was 2 and has been going ever since. She LOVES it! It was a little rocky at first though. She went to the director’s office on the first day, because the teacher was having a difficult time with her hitting. However, over time, with the help of her teacher and others, she eventually stopped. Also, my daughter wasn’t up to par on her language development at first. But again, over time, preschool helped her overcome it. With all of this being said, preschool has been beneficial for her. And to be honest, when I was choosing a preschool, my only condition was that it was at a Methodist church. I chose the one she is going to because the website had a lot of good information and “I was sold” based on this information. Choosing a preschool wasn’t an easy process, but I think I could have taken a more systematic approach to it. So, I thought I would interview someone who is experienced in preschool education to give more informed information on how to choose a preschool.
I’m Darcey. I blog over at aflourishingrose.com where many of my posts focus on motherhood and or early childhood education. I’ve worked in the early childhood field for about 15 years. I’ve worked with children birth to five, but much of my time in the field has been spent in preschool classrooms. I also have a master’s degree in early childhood services.
Most of the preschool classrooms where I have worked will start enrolling children at age two and a half.
Two of the preschool programs I have worked for have been private nonprofits. I’ve also worked in preschool programs that are apart of colleges/universities. These programs are mostly for the children of the college staff and students. I’ve also volunteered at Head Start which offers a preschool program for low-income families. There are a variety of options, so I’d suggest doing lots of research and paying attention to reviews. The best way to find a reputable place is through word of mouth.
I’d start by making a list of what is important and then start researching options in your area. Some things to consider are location, the type of program, what the program includes, the cost, qualifications of the staff, etc. The most important thing is that you can see the place ahead of time. See how it makes you feel and if you are comfortable with the teachers. The most important thing is that you feel welcome.
For more things to consider, check out this list of five signs of a quality early childhood program.
In my area, there are no free preschool programs. There is a childcare voucher program that parents can apply for if they meet the income guidelines. This is a great option for parents who need to work, but cannot afford childcare. Public pre-k programs are becoming available in my state, but they are relatively new and are a bit different from preschool programs as they are apart of the public school system.
You might want to check with the specific preschool that you want your child to attend because every preschool has different guidelines.
Some places don’t enroll children until they are three. Others have strict potty training policies. One thing I’d suggest before preschool is getting your child used to some structured activities such as arts and crafts, play-dough, blocks, etc. These are things you can bring out for the child to do or play with to create some structure, but there are still elements of creative and open-ended play. Plus these activities are common in preschool, so it helps when children are familiar with them.
Another thing to think about is how your child reacts while being away from the family. Does your child have extreme separation anxiety? This is something preschool teachers can help the child work through, but if you know your child is anxious, one suggestion is to leave the child for shorter periods with a trusted babysitter or a family member or friend that the child is less familiar with to help the child get used to being around other people before jumping into a classroom setting.
Finally, potty training can be a big issue for some programs. I have a list of potty training strategies that work.
It depends on what kind of program you are looking for. If you need all daycare, I’d start calling around as soon as possible. If you plan on a half-day preschool program, I’d ask each specific program. Many programs start enrollment in the spring, but you never know. Spots may open throughout the year.
As a preschool teacher, I focus on the whole child, so that the child learns new skills in every area. Some common skills we work on include social skills like sharing, communicating, taking turns, showing empathy, listening and following directions. We work on literacy through reading books and increasing vocabulary through everyday conversation. Children also learn letter recognition and pre-writing skills using art activities, reading books and other hands-on activities. We help children learn how to label and manage their emotions, practice self-care skills and learn about the world around them. I could go on and on.
Here are my reasons for choosing preschool for my daughter.
I made a list of items to pack for preschool here.
Choosing a preschool that is right for your child can be a lengthy process. We always want what is best for our children, so as parents, we should get all the information we can and make an informed decision. And if the one we chose isn’t working out, we can always try again. You got this mamma! Eventually, you will choose a preschool that is best for our child!
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