January is upon us and even though the new school year doesn’t begin until August or September, registration time is here! I know it seems crazy to be dealing with the fall already. But, to secure your spot, the time is now.
I thought I had everything figured out regarding preschool since my oldest has already been through it and is now a big Kindergartener. But, alas, we moved, which means I had to research all over again for my daughter who will be attending preschool next year.
If you have a little one starting preschool or Pre-K next year, it isn’t too late to get the ball rolling. Here are my tips:
Ask friends and neighbors what they know about schools in the area
There is no better way to find out about a school! Talk to people you know. This has been difficult for me, as I don’t know many people around here yet. But, no one is off limits – the next door neighbor, the mom you see in the pick-up line, or the UPS driver. Who knows – they might know something you don’t know (at least, that is normally the case with me).
Google, Google, Google
What did we do before Google? I have no idea. I can’t remember a time without it, really. I got started by searching my town and the word “preschool” and that is how my research began. Don’t get too crazy with the online resources (i.e. crazy parent reviews or sketchy blogs), but use it for what it is. The online community is full of information and I was able to weed out a bunch of schools just by reading about their philosophies, prices, schedules, and teachers. Use the Internet to help you save time.
Schedule a tour now
Once you know what you want in a school (Full day? Half day? Montessori? Co-op?), contact the school’s director and schedule a time to come in and check things out in person. The website can be pretty and impressive, but if you don’t feel comfortable when you walk in, it isn’t the school for you.
This is the time to visualize your child in the space. Also, check out the building – is it safe? Is it clean? Does it look like the rooms are maintained and taken care of? Where does snack time happen? What are the restrooms like?
This is also the time to get a first impression of the teacher. I remember when I first met my son’s preschool teacher at an open house and the minute I started talking to her, I just liked her and I knew he would, too. There needs to be a trust there that this person will have your child’s best interest in mind during the day when you aren’t there.
There is no question that is too big or small. Trust me. I think I’ve asked them all. After you’ve done the tour and met the people, you might have some questions that you didn’t think to ask while you were there. Here are a few I always ask:
- How is discipline handled in the classroom?
- How is parent/teacher communication carried out? How often?
- Are all the teachers certified in First Aid and CPR?
- What is the teacher/student ratio?
- If snack is being provided, what does it consist of? How is hand washing handled?
At the end of the day, you want your child to be HAPPY at preschool. This is all about the love of learning and finding place that makes them feel safe and secure. Trust your instincts.
What are your tips when looking for the right preschool?
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