Preschool, often called pre-k or nursery school, is usually your child’s first introduction to education. Not only does preschool prepare children for kindergarten, but it can also improve cognitive development and behavior throughout their elementary years. Because of this, it is extremely important to make sure your child is in the best preschool program for them. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a preschool program that is the right fit for both the parent and the child.
As a parent, it is natural to worry about someone else taking care of your child for an extended period of time. In order to feel confident in your child’s potential preschool program, make sure to ask the right questions about an average day at school. Consider asking the following four questions:
- What is the adult-to-child ratio?
- What is the program group size?
- What is the learning philosophy?
- Is play incorporated throughout the day?
These questions are based on recommendations from The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to determine a preschool program’s quality. Research from the NICHD shows the benefits of higher adult-to-child ratios and smaller group sizes. A child’s day at school is also primarily based on the group size and the learning philosophy of the school. Further, one of the best ways for children to learn in their childhood years is through free play. This free playtime is vital to personal, social-emotional, and cognitive development.
A Teacher’s Influence
Teachers are one of the most important parts of a child’s preschool experience. Not only are children with their teachers for many hours each day, but teachers are primarily responsible for enforcing the teaching style and day-to-day structure of the preschool program. When comparing various preschools, take note of the teacher’s qualities and how they interact with all of the children. Ask the following questions:
- Do they have positive attitudes?
- How do they talk to the children?
- Do they encourage development?
Remember: besides their parents or guardians, children spend most of their time with their teachers. It will pay off in the end to take the time to find a teacher that is a good fit for your child and will positively encourage and support your child’s growth.
Choosing the Best Program
As you can see, there are many questions to ask and consider when choosing the best preschool program for you and your child. Don’t forget to also consider the program’s cost, distance, environment, and availability. However, the most important factor should be your child’s experience. Trust your parental instincts when deciding where your child will be the happiest and thrive the most.
Here at the Y, we know that your child’s preschool experience is essential to their future success and happiness. Caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility are the core values of our preschool programs. Our primary goal is to create a safe and nurturing environment where we can instill skills and values to set each child up for success. Enroll your child today on their journey of discovery, learning, and growth!