Choosing the proper preschool environment for your child can prove a daunting task. Thinking through some of the following questions will help you narrow your choices to find a good fit for your family.
Which philosophy most aligns with your own? Think about your experiences as a child going to school and how these experiences have shaped your own values and work ethic. Which do you feel will meet your family’s needs?
Child-centered: Child-centered learning environments allow children to dictate the topics and activities they will participate in over the course of the school year.
Teacher-led: In teacher-led learning environments, the teacher creates the schedule and chooses the learning topics and activities.
Child-led: Child-led learning environments provide individual learning opportunities and align with the belief that children learn best when they are interested and engaged.
Faith-based: Faith-based learning environments provide learning opportunities that are organized according to the faith beliefs of that community.
Do you want a location close to work? This option is beneficial for parents who have a longer commute to work. With this option, working parents have the ability to work longer hours if needed while remaining close to their child.
Do you want a location close to home? This option works well if more than one adult will be picking up the child at the end of the day or if you are a stay-at-home parent. In addition, children are more likely to attend the same kindergarten as their preschool classmates which may mean an easier transition to kindergarten.
Tour a few locations. What are your first impressions? Is the school clean? What are the security procedures? Do you feel welcomed? Do the children and teachers seem happy?
Observe Interactions. How does the teacher speak to the children? Is the teacher positive and nurturing? How does the teacher handle behavioral problems? How do the children interact with each other?
Think of Questions
Ask questions relating to discipline procedures, curriculum and activities, social and academic goals, and possibilities for parent involvement. Answers to these questions will provide you with a better idea of the overall structure and educational values of the school. Additionally, you may want to ask questions about teacher turn-over, teacher education level, and on-going professional development. Schools providing growth opportunities for their teachers are more likely to have teachers who are up to date on the latest in the field of early childhood education.
Some schools provide enhancement programs such as dance, martial arts and gymnastics during school operating hours as well as experiences outside of the school day to connect with other families: field trips, sports activities, family fun nights, and community out-reach programs. These extra perks often help build a sense of community within the school by providing a way for your family to connect with other families.
by Susan Brunk, M. Ed. Associate Director of Curriculum, Stepping Stone School . Stepping Stone School is a comprehensive early care and education program in the Austin, Round Rock, and College Station areas that profoundly nurtures children and prepares them for lifelong happiness.