The Five-step Guide to Picking a Preschool
The early years of your child’s care and education are some of the most formative. If you are a new parent and are trying to educate yourself on what early childhood education, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming! So the idea that there can be a simple, five-step guide to picking a preschool might seem a little far-fetched.
We can’t simplify this completely for you. We do want you to know, however, that many preschool programs will benefit your child. Sure, some philosophies of education and methods of teaching are better than others (naturally, we are partial to the Whole Child Philosophy) but your child will benefit greatly from any quality education program. We have prepared this simple guide to help you hone in on the right child education center for you.
1. Get started now
Did you know that some preschools have waiting list that require expectant parents to register before birth to reserve a spot for their child? Do a scan of the preschools in your area (just google “preschool near me” or “childcare near me”), call a few schools, and ask about wait lists. This step will let you know if you can make a leisurely search of if you have to make a decision fast.
2. Determine your priorities
No one can tell you what is most important for you and your child. Each parent, child, relationship, and life situation is different, so each priority list will be as well. If you are struggling to clarify your priorities, check out our preschool priority checklist.
3. Educate yourself on the ECE industry
You don’t have to go back to school but educate yourself on early childhood education. Research philosophies like Whole Child Education, The Montessori Method, or the Waldorf Approach, and learn what resonates with you. Make sure you know the difference between child-led and child-centered preschools, what a co-operative preschool is, what faith-based curriculum means, and what cognitive development really is. Research Connections has a great resource for understanding industry terms.
4. Determine your budget
Our children are our most precious possession, and we all wish we didn’t have to consider the financial cost when talking about education, but of course we do. Determine both your target and max budget, and what would make you willing to exceed your target. Pricing for Preschool pricing will be affected by the local market, the quality of child care offered at the preschool, as well as specialized classes. If your work and home are not in the same basic area, make sure you check prices in both, you may find a significant difference!
5. Make a decision
Once you know your priorities, your budget, and understand the terms you are likely to encounter, its time to start touring schools! Visit as many locations as you can that offer the age-appropriate program(s) that you are looking for. Also, make sure you take notes! As you are thinking back over your tours, you will likely not be able to remember every nuance that you learned from each school. After your tour, jot the important things that you learned on the tour down before you even drive away.
Choosing your child’s preschool isn’t going to be easy, but it can be fairly simple. If you use our Five-step Guide to Picking a Preschool, you will know that you made a systematic and well-informed decision for your little one’s future!