How to Pick the Best Preschool for You and Your Child

April 03, 2017

When it comes to education, every parent wants to make sure their child starts off on the right foot. Many couples look to buy homes in certain neighborhoods based on the school district, regardless of whether they have children yet or not. However, the majority of a child’s development takes place before they ever even set foot in an elementary school. Because of this, many parents are approaching the subject of preschool with renewed interest. How can you tell which preschool will be best for your child? What should you look for?

Remain Practical

There’s no shortage of preschools out there and they come in all shapes, sizes, and focuses. In any given area, there may be between 3-10 preschools in a 15-mile radius – perhaps even more in densely populated areas. With the sheer volume of schools vying for your attention, narrowing down the options can seem a little overwhelming.

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First and foremost, remember to consider practical matters first. Not every preschool is suited for every family’s individual needs. Consider the school’s hours of operation, the distance from your home or work, after-hours options, class sizes, student-teacher ratio, and, of course, the cost.

Knowing these factors can help you quickly eliminate obvious outliers. If you know your toddler would fare better in a smaller, more intimate class setting, then you can easily eliminate schools with larger class sizes. If you’re unable to pick your child up until 4 pm, then you can stop considering the preschool that closes at 2 pm with no after-care options.

Ask the Right Questions

Once you weed out the schools that don’t suit your needs, you can focus your efforts on the true contenders. From here, there are a few essential questions you can ask to help ensure you select the best preschool.

Does the School’s Philosophy Match Your Own?

You certainly don’t want to pick a preschool with an educational philosophy that doesn’t align with your own personal beliefs on early education and child development. Take an interest in, and educate yourself on, the curriculum a certain preschool offers. Is the program discovery-based or is it focused primarily on drill and practice skills? Are the days too rigidly structured or not structured enough? Remember, while structure is essential for toddlers, it’s also important that children are offered opportunities to make choices about their learning.

If you desire open lines of communication between yourself and the preschool, then it would be best to find a school that supports and encourages that desire. Many preschools encourage parents to stop by anytime and provide the family feedback on their child’s development and daily routine.   

Are There Active Play Opportunities for Children to Develop Skills?

A good preschool should offer plenty of opportunities for active play. Physical activity is essential to the development of a toddler’s gross motor skills. It also promotes general health and wellbeing. It’s equally important that a preschool provides opportunities for your little one to practice their fine motor skills by stringing beads, manipulating playdough, cutting shapes in paper, and drawing.

What’s The Educational Background of the Preschool and Staff?

Every parent wants to ensure that their child’s preschool teacher is experienced and qualified. Beyond that, what is the reputation of the preschool itself? Are all teachers certified? How long has the preschool been in existence? Have they accomplished anything significant in that time? It’s important for preschool teachers to understand how children grow, learn, and develop in order to better foster their education.

In addition to checking qualifications, be sure to inquire as to whether the staff of the school is certified in CPR and first aid. For most preschools, this is a requirement for employment, but it never hurts to double check. By getting to know the teachers at the preschool, parents will also get a better understanding of their personality. While having the proper qualifications in early childhood education is important in its own way, the level of commitment, caring, and dedication of the staff to the wellbeing of the children is equally important.

How is Discipline Approached?

There may not be anything so universally debated as the appropriate method of discipline for children. Make sure the classroom rules are clear so your child will know what to expect. Look for a positive philosophy that helps children understand what they can do as opposed to what they can’t do.

Check with the teacher to see what discipline approaches are taken when conflicts or problems arise. Though young, your child does have rights and it’s important to ensure those rights will not be infringed upon for the sake of discipline. If you’re not comfortable with a preschool’s methods of discipline, then you can easily rule it out among those you’re considering.

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Other Important Factors

These are all important questions to ask, but they are not the only ones that matter. Remember to consider other factors that may be important to you or play a significant role in your personal philosophy of raising your child. For instance, is it important to you that your child grows up in a diverse environment? If so, you’ll want your preschool to put an emphasis on reflecting and celebrating diversity. Do you want your little one’s education to be enriched with the arts and music? These factors and more can play a big role in deciding the right preschool for you and your child.

Choosing a Preschool in Holmdel NJ

If you’re looking for a preschool in Holmdel or Aberdeen NJ, consider Home Away From Home Academy. We’re a private preschool with decades of experience in early childhood education. Our mission is that every child will be known and valued. We seek to inspire in your child a positive sense of self, consideration for others, a commitment to lifelong learning, and that they will be rewarded with a strong sense of achievement. We’re proud of our school’s focus on diversity and our commitment and dedication to each child’s education and experience. Registration for enrollment is now open. Check out our available programs online, or contact us to learn more.

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