Choosing a Preschool for Your Child

Written by Deborah Pruitt, Director of TBI Preschool. Originally published in “909 Magazine” September 2014.

You might find yourself in a situation where your baby is 3 months old and it’s time to return to work, or you might have a 4 year old and you’d like him to have a year of preschool before entering kindergarten. Whatever your child’s age is, considering a preschool enrollment can be overwhelming. There are so many options and so much to consider. Parents have the opportunity to choose what option is best for your child and your family.

Finding the right child care means doing some homework. Friends and neighbors might give recommendations, and there are some great online tools to use. Parents can visit school websites and sites like: Google places and Great Schools. The first thing to research is about school specifics such as; hours it’s open, the cost, the ages of children it serves, it’s location and your travel time.

Secondly, it’s important to understand that not all childcare is the same. Programs vary based on ownership, like public Headstart, State or school district programs, for profit or non-profit centers, parent cooperatives, preschools on college campuses and family day care homes. One thing remains the same, all child care programs, whether home or facility, need to be licensed by the California Dept. of Social Services, to me basic requirements. Early childhood education also encompasses a broad base of philosophies and curriculum. A school might follow the California education standards, a whole child developmental focus, the Montessori Method or faith-based curriculum, for instance.

After doing some research, it’s then time to visit preschool programs. When scheduling a visit, there will be time for an orientation and tour of the site. Parents will be able to visit the facility and see if it’s child-centered, warm and inviting, clean and safe. This is the time to ask questions about the program such as:

  • What is the child-teacher ratio?
  • How do the teachers and parents communicate?
  • Do children have to use the toilet independently?

As you visit preschools, be aware of how you feel about the program. Consider if the environment feels welcoming, if the children are happily engaged in activities and how the teachers relate to the children.

The early years are so very important in establishing a good foundation for your child’s development. Young children grow so rapidly; they need positive, caring guidance both at home and at school. Fundamentally, choosing a preschool means that the fit between home-school needs to be right for your child and family. Once you feel that your priorities are met, you’ll feel relaxed knowing that your child will be in an early childhood program that he/she will thrive in as they grow and develop.

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