Choosing a preschool can be an overwhelming experience for many parents. But, it doesn’t have to be!
Considering a few important things can help you to narrow down your search and find a preschool that will be the perfect fit for both your child and your family.
Start with your budget in mind.
At the beginning of your search one of the most important things to consider is your budget. Finding the perfect school you can’t afford isn’t helpful, it is frustrating.
And because preschool tuition can range from a couple of hundred dollars a month to well over a thousand, taking a close look at your budget may help your family to decide on a range that everyone feels comfortable with.
Keep in mind that most families have to give something up to take on the new cost of preschool tuition. Make sure the trade-off is worth it for both you and your spouse. Being “tuition poor” will taint your feelings on even the most perfect preschool experience.
What is your preschool philosophy?
There are at least a half a dozen mainstream (or quasi mainstream) pre-schooling options out there. Besides the more traditional church preschools and programs, schools that used to be a little bit more rare, like Waldorf and Montessori, are now relatively easy to find.
Knowing what you want out of your child’s first school experience will be key in narrowing down the type of preschool program you want to enroll in. Research different preschool styles and let them sink in for a bit, eventually you will find yourself drawn to one philosophy over another.
An important topic related to the philosophy of each school is their discipline policy. Having your child disciplined in a way that does not align with your parenting values could be traumatic for both you and your child. Make sure that whatever the school’s policy is, you are completely comfortable with it.
How often will your child attend school?
Most preschools offer a handful of different attendance options for their students. The most common choices are the 3 or 5 day programs offering either half or full days. However, I have heard of school that offer as little as one day a week. If a school you are interested in does not advertise the attendance plan you are looking for, ask! They might make an exception.
Where is the school located?
Think about how far you are willing to drive to get to your child’s school. Will you be heading to work after morning drop off or back home?
Drive the route you would most often take to the school in the morning and do the same thing for afternoon pick-up. Test these routes during the actual time of day you will be driving them. What looks like a 20 minute drive on a map might actually be a 40 minute drive during rush hour.
Set Up A Tour
Once you have narrowed down your search to a handful of schools it is time to start setting up tours. Schedule the tours during school hours and when the students are there. Viewing an empty classroom is usually not very helpful. You want to see the teachers and students at work and observe how they interact with one another. Your first impressions of the teacher’s relationship with his or her students will probably be very influential when it comes to your final decision.
Finally, make sure to ask lots of questions! Here are some to get you started. Add any that come to mind. Don’t be afraid of being a bother. Remember, you are hiring them to take care of your most precious cargo!
- Are there any other costs for attendance besides tuition?
Many schools charge snack or supply fees as well as enrollment fees.
- What is your educational philosophy?
A weak answer to this question should raise red flags.
- What is your discipline policy?
Is it a school wide policy or does it vary in each classroom?
- How many kids are in each class?
Also, how many teachers.
- Do most of the students attend the half or full day program?
Being the only half or full day student could be tough.
- What does drop off and pick up look like?
If you have to wake up a sleeping baby every day at pick up, the answer to this question might
be very important!
We hope that you find this information helpful in assisting you to find the preschool for your children.