4 Things To Look For In A Preschool
We can’t stress this enough — preschool is not just a bill of goods or a place to pawn off your child so that you can go to work. Preschool sets a tone and sets a child up for success. In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that preschool may be one of the single most important early-intervention strategies for low-income and at risk youth, contributing to higher high school graduation rates, fewer run-ins with the law, and greater presence in the work force.
This being said, all preschools are not created equal. Below are a few things to look for in a preschool that we think are particularly important.
1. Look For Academic Preschool Activities
One of the most important things to look for in a preschool that often goes overlooked are the types of activities offered to children. Many parents falsely assume that preschool aged children are too young to learn anything of value and are thus happy with a preschool where TV and unstructured outdoor play reign supreme. However, it’s simply not the case that children younger than five can’t learn. The benefits of an academic preschool curriculum are that your child becomes accustomed to structure, time budgeting, and guided activities, which are all vital for their grade school readiness. Tasks that involve counting, reading, and productive play are all beneficial.
2. The More Group Interaction The Better
A parent’s instinct is to protect their child, and so one of the things to look for in a preschool for some parents may be fewer kids! We actually don’t think this is a good idea. In the real world, your child will have to interact with other children early and often. Starting them off at a good preschool that encourages team play and collaboration will help socialize your child and help them cope with any natural shyness they might possess.
3. Credentials Are King
Janie the babysitter down the block might be a nice girl, but she’s not necessarily qualified to watch your child. Credentials and compliance with the law are some of the most important things to look for in a preschool on your short list. This being said, credentials can come in many forms. You wouldn’t expect the preschool’s resident art teacher to have a degree in psychology for example. Ultimately you’ll have to be the judge of what credentials qualify, but don’t just settle for any group.
4. Are The Staff And Your Child Meshing?
Much like visiting colleges, a preschool could look great on paper but then be totally disharmonious with expectations in person. Before committing to a preschool, make sure you and your child attend some sort of open house. This will help you get a sense of the preschool’s culture and your child’s comfort level with the staff and other children. To be sure a little nervousness at first is natural, but if something is really “off,” you’ll probably be able to tell the difference between this and a case of simple stomach butterflies.
For some people, which preschool is best may just come down to what they can afford and what’s practical. Well, that’s okay. It’s very possible that as far as a child’s development goes, any competent preschool is better than no preschool at all.