The Preschool & Daycare Search
Once you have decided it is time for your child to go to preschool, finding a good program will be the next logical step. Starting the search early is always a wise decision. When it comes to day care in Chesapeake, for instance, residents know that they should start their search early. Some families even apply to the best preschools right after their child is born.
After identifying a few promising schools, send out applications to all of them. This will give you options if your child is not admitted to your first choice. Below are some guidelines on finding the best preschool program for your child:
Categorize Your Priorities
• Decide whether you want a preschool near your home or your workplace.
• Determine if you prefer the school to have a particular approach to learning.
• Make a list of all your desires to serve as reference when evaluating various programs.
Find the most highly regarded preschools by asking family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to provide you with the names of reputable institutions.
Seek Expert Advice
Your local Child Care Agency can provide a list of accredited preschools nearby. Accreditation is not a guarantee that a specific preschool will be ideal for your child; however, a stamp of approval from the governing body is a good sign of quality childcare.
Use the Internet
Visit the websites of your local and state agencies for contact information and guidelines to narrow down the search. Some of these websites have a searchable online database of accredited preschools and day care centers.
Visit and Consult
• Asking about enrollment, fees, and a few other preliminary questions over the phone is always a good thing. However, going to the school and meeting the staff will give you a better sense of what the institution is really like.
• Ask about everything including tuition, hours and vacation schedules. You should also find out about philosophies on child rearing matters like nutrition and discipline. In addition, you should request a copy of their daily schedule.
• Pay attention to your gut feeling about the school and take note of how your questions are handled by the director.
• Visit the classrooms and pay attention to the teacher-child ratios. Experts recommend that no more than 18 2 year olds and 3 year olds should be in a group and 2 teachers should be assigned. No more than 20 should be in a 3 to 4 year old group, with the same number of teachers. Two or more teachers are recommended for a class of 20 5 year old students.
• Observe teacher-student interactions to see if they are encouraging, friendly and caring. Ensure that the school has a safe, warm and clean environment, experienced teachers and a challenging curriculum.
• Inquire about staff turnover and if there is a revolving door of teachers, move on. Consistency and an opportunity to forge strong bonds with their caregivers are essential for children. Therefore, a preschool with frequent staff changes is not ideal.
• A powerful endorsement of any preschool is word of mouth. If the institution has a certain buzz, find out what parents like about it. Ask for a list of parents who have children attending the school, call several of them and ask detailed questions. Find out exactly what they like about the school and if there is anything they would change about it. If their child is no longer enrolled in the school, find out why.
• Calling the Better Business Bureau in your state is a good idea as well. You can find out if there has been any complaint filed against the any teacher or the school itself.
Do A Kid-test
Take your child along on a visit to the school. This is a great way to see how he or she interacts with the teachers and other students. Take note of whether he appears comfortable in this new environment.
Deciding on a preschool for your child is ultimately a personal decision. After the visit to a particular preschool, if you like the idea of your child attending this school, it is probably the ideal choice for him or her.