How to find the right private preschool for your child
Getting your child’s first school experience right is critical. This defines his or her attitude toward the years of schooling that follow. It assures his or her readiness for success in elementary school. It may even open future scholastic opportunities. But because this may be your first experience with school selection and because your child is an emerging learner, you worry about how to make a good decision.
Here are a few helpful guidelines to follow as you consider selecting a preschool. First, start early. There may be considerable competition for top rated preschools and you will want to meet all deadlines. Research early learner theories of education and classroom management. There is little agreement on “the” best way to teach young children. Understand what the major pedagogies deliver including Montessori, Waldorf, Forest Schools, Reggio Emilia, and Classical Education. Challenge what you believe about each of these strategies. For example, Waldorf is focused on developing student creativity. However, they achieve this is in an unapologetically teacher-lead classroom environment. Learn the buzz words and really understand what they mean. What is progressive education, emergent curriculum, differentiated instruction? Would you consider a bilingual or a dual language classroom? Visit your selection of best preschools to observe the classroom experience, teacher interactions and condition of facilities. Are you impressed with the school leadership? The goal is to truly understand what each preschool delivers so that you can select what is best for your early learner.
Enrolling in the best public preschool
This may be as simple as sending your child to your neighborhood elementary school with a preschool annex, or as complicated as entering a daunting school assignment process. For example, New York City has a notoriously complicated system. Competition is fierce for in-demand preschool seats, with the most popular programs admitting less than five percent of the four-year-olds who apply. Families can apply to a maximum of 12 schools among all schools in the city. Regardless, students have the best chance of being offered a seat at their zoned school. Families should include some schools with higher acceptance rates among their 12 selections.
Some questions to ask as you evaluate best preschools
- What is the class size? School size? Student/teacher ratio?
- Describe the profile of students – socioeconomic, cultural.
- Where do other students live?
- What are the school’s requirements for toilet training?
- How do teachers help in the settling in or separation process?
- Is there parent involvement? If so, what type?
- What is unique to the school? What makes it a special place?
- How do students address teachers (formality)?
- How are student conflicts resolved?
- How do teachers work with different kinds of learners?
A private preschool may evaluate your student in the following areas:
- Follows directions of two or more steps
- Uses complete four to six word sentences
- Engages in conversations of at least three exchanges
- Generates rhyming words spontaneously
- Recognizes at least 10 letters
- Identifies a few letter sounds
- Asks and answers questions about a text and refers to the pictures
- Produces mock letters or letter-like forms
- Produces letter strings
- Counts objects and discusses results
- Draws geometric shapes
- Can recognize and reproduce simple patterns
As you select among best preschools for your child, be confident that your thoughtful approach will produce a good decision. Do not worry if cost or logistics influence your preschool choice. You are meeting the real challenges of parenting. Your child will benefit from your careful decision-making.