Preschool is a big step for your child, and for you! It is a time for growth and development, friends and learning as well as anxiety, anger, and in some cases shy moments. By choosing the best preschool for your child, you allow your child the best environment to flourish. Larger cities will have several types of preschools available. The amount of time your child spends in preschool and the things they learn is often dependent on what the preschool teaches. This is unlike most school systems where the state educational guidelines are in place to ensure that students meet specific learning objectives.
The first step in the process is to locate the schools available to you in your area. Preschools are available through programs that are government-sponsored, area community centers, churches, and private facilities. The type of schools you can consider is up to you and dependent on what you would like your child to experience. Some parents will incorporate a daycare and preschool into one where the child remains at the facility while you are working but has the least part of the day dedicated to educational activities. Other parents place children in preschools just for a few hours per day when the goal is for them to get a bit of education and then to go home.
Is Your Child Ready For Preschool?
It is important to consider the development of your child for preschool. Most preschools will require that the child is potty trained. They will have guidelines for age, which usually does not start prior to your child’s third birthday (though some types of young preschool groups where parents stay with the kids can start as young as two years old.) Your child should be:
• Socially able to be around other children; shy children will need to develop this skill as will children that are more aggressive.
• They should be willing and able to be separated from you for the preschool time period.
• They should be physically able to be left with their preschool teacher; preschoolers requiring physical attention may need special schools.
• They should be cognitively ready for it; preschool is a time for learning, but often they should be ready and willing to learn before starting.
If you are unsure about how ready your child is for school, talk with your physician. Ask them questions about the child’s development and if they are ready for school.
Types Of Preschools
There are several types of preschools to consider for your child. The first is a Montessori Program. These programs will teach a variety of things but usually focus on a more natural and “all living things are important” type of learning. The curriculum may be religious-based, too.
A High Approach (Scope Approach) is another form where there is a lot of promotion of involvement with other people. Children are encouraged to look for their interests and to pursue their individual goals.
A Waldorf Approach is another option where there is a three-pronged approach: the body, soul, and spirit of the individual is embraced. Here, the preschool will work to develop all areas, including giving them time to be creative. The approach in this type of school is more group-oriented.
A fourth type of preschool to consider is the Bank Street Approach. Here, education is the focus where the children are learning to be physically, socially, and emotionally strong in their development.
Finding Your Fit
Prior to making your decision about the right preschool for your child, dedicate your time to talking with the preschools in your area. Meet with the schools and go over their curriculum. Find out what they are teaching, how they teach it as well as their progress in doing so. How well do children do when they are in this school?
By talking with and working with the preschools, you will be able to determine clearer where your children fit in. Talk with other parents that have children enrolled in the school and their concerns. You may have very specific goals for the preschool you choose or you may just like the teachers your child will have. Ultimately, you do need to spend some time getting to know the options you have. This is the start of their education and therefore needs to be a decision you make carefully.