Every year nationwide, around 1.5 million children attend preschool.
If your toddler is approaching three or four years of age, you’re likely doing lots of research into early childhood education. Going to school is essential for child development, but how can you choose the best school for your child?
Here are five tips that will help.
1. Make Sure Your Child Is Ready
Child development happens at different rates for each individual. Just because your friend’s child is ready for preschool at age three doesn’t necessarily mean your child is too.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Is my child potty trained?
- Is their speech understandable?
- Do they follow directions well?
- Do they struggle with separation anxiety?
- Do they get along well with other children?
Be honest with yourself and make sure your child is 100% ready to begin going to school.
2. Start the Search Early
Many of the best preschools have long waiting lists. You may need to apply by January for the next September class, or even a full year in advance.
Check with the schools you’re interested in and make sure you understand their application policies and deadlines. If you wait too long, you could miss out!
3. Reflect on Your Own Values
Preschools place a lot of emphasis on their own values and teaching philosophies. Montessori, for example, focuses on the child’s preferences for learning, while Reggio Emilia takes a more holistic approach.
It’s true that you need to consider the school’s philosophy and how well it aligns with your child’s personality. But you also need to consider how well the curriculum lines up with your own values, especially if you’re considering a faith-based preschool program.
4. Schedule Tours & Meet the Teachers
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of possible schools, it’s time to tour the campus and meet the faculty. Low child-to-teacher ratios are ideal, but you’ll also want to consider the quality and experience of the teachers.
For example, when you ask a preschool teacher facts about kids, they should acknowledge that every child feels emotions differently. They should also understand that each child learns at their own pace and in their own way.
It also goes without saying that you’ll want to choose a school that’s clean, orderly, and safe for little ones to explore and play.
5. Consider Distance & Costs
How far away is the school from your home or office? Who will be responsible for picking up and dropping off your child? Does the school’s schedule line up with your own, or will you need to make changes to your daily routine?
Of course, education for children doesn’t come free. The national average cost of preschool for toddlers is $847 per month, although the costs may be much higher depending on your locale. Sit down and do the math to ensure your family can afford the cost of tuition.
Make Early Childhood Education a Priority
It’s never too soon to start investing in your child’s future. Choosing a school that aligns with your child’s needs will help them develop a love for learning and set them up for success as adults.
Use the tips outlined above to find the best school for your little one!
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