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Choosing a school and a preschool, for your kids can be quite a daunting task. The key is to be prepared and do thorough research.

This set of guidelines will provide you with basic knowledge and help you select the perfect pre-school for your little one.

A Good Reputation

A good preschool has a stimulating environment. Their curriculum motivates and encourages learning. During a visit to the preschool, ask for few contacts of parents whose children are currently studying there. Talk to them and get their feedback.

Remember to trust your instincts when it comes to your child, and do not make some definitive opinion based on a suggestion from a disgruntled parent who must have had a negative experience. To be sure, observe children during your visit if they seem happy or not.

Established Ground Rules

It is always better to check for established regulations like operating hours to how they will be handling emergencies. Along the same lines, check for the sick-child policy, like during which illnesses your child has to stay at home. It may be inconvenient with tough rules, but it makes sense to keep children (and staff) away. A preschool will emphasize on frequent check-ups and immunization policy. This way, you know how well the staff takes care of their responsibility – your child.

A good preschool will always have an open-door policy like they would ask you and other parents to be an active part of field trips, picnics, and other activities. A preschool that has lax or non-existent rules is the sign to keep looking.

Stimulating Curriculum

The preschools that have segregated activities like group time, meals, snacks, story time, physical exercises, socializing and free time. TV and videos are not that should be part of their time. At this age, children learn and pick up letters and alphabets faster, and a good curriculum will facilitate this tendency. Children at a young age learn and absorb things quickly, it is essential that you this to your advantage.

Educational Philosophies

The most confusing part for parents, while deciding on preschool, is to make sense of the terms like “Montessori Approach”, “Child-led” or “Faith-based”. These are the numerous educational philosophies, some of them are listed below.

  • The Montessori Method

This method is common in many preschools and mainly focuses on maintaining the individuality of each child in the learning process. It believes that each child his own pace of learning. Their teaching methods are based around this principle.

  • The Reggio Emilia Approach

This approach focuses on giving opportunities for problem-solving through exploration and creative thinking.

  • The Waldorf Approach

This approach emphasizes more on imagination. Providing students with occasions to explore and understand their world through their senses, participation and thus encourage analytical thought process.

  • The Bank Street Approach

This approach focuses on learning through multiple perspectives, both in the classroom setting and in the outside, natural world.

  • The High/Scope Approach

This approach encourages student to plan out their own schedule. They are taught to make a plan for what they would like to do each day and plan out the day accordingly.

Outside of formal educational philosophies, there are common terms used to describe preschool settings. These may be used alone or in combination e.g. “teacher-led, faith-based setting.”

  • Child-centered

This term is used to describe settings that take the children’s interests to plan the activities. For example: in a child-centered setting, the classroom activities are based on the students’ interests, not on pre-scheduled topics chosen by the teacher. These settings offer better opportunities for children to choose activities depending on their interests, throughout the day.

  • Teacher-led

This setting is opposite of a child-centered setting. The teacher-led setting means that supplemental activities and curriculum are executed, based on a schedule set by the teachers. This type of setting offers children with a structured learning environment.

  • Child-led

This setting believes that children learn best when they are involved and interested in learning. Child-led settings focus on each child to initiate or ask for new experiences and activities, nurturing individualized learning skills rather than group experiences.

  • Faith-based

This term is tagged to those preschool programs that are run through faith organizations such as churches or synagogues, rendering to their faith’s philosophies.

  • Developmentally Appropriate

In this setting of the preschool, they plan the curriculum and activities that are appropriate for the age of the children in the class.

  • Pre-kindergarten (pre-K)

Sometimes this term is confused or used interchangeably with preschool. In general, a pre-K program is one where the children are enrolled in the year before kindergarten, usually at age four. This setting offers more structured than the traditional preschool setting.

Qualified Staff

Unlike, home daycare and nannies, preschools, and daycare centers have qualified staff. They are expected to have college background with early childhood development as well as CPR and other emergency training.

A good teacher will ask more questions to understand your child and determine whether their preschool is a good match for you.

Before zeroing in on a preschool make sure the teachers are responsible, enthusiastic and approachable.

If the preschool has less experienced teachers, that means they have high turnover or teachers are not sticking around. Look for preschools with experienced teachers that will ensure consistent and stable care for your child.

Clean and Safe Amenities

To meet the licensing requirements, the preschool has to maintain the cleanliness norms in most of the states. Have an open eye for few things, like floors, walls and the kitchen area, if any, is away from the washroom. Observe if the building is ventilated, well-lit and adequately heated.

Safety comes first, so look if the smoke detectors are installed, windows on higher floors have bars or stops. Medications and other hazardous substances are stored out of the children’s reach. Also, make sure the school has a good security system.

Keep these factors in mind before finalizing a preschool for your tiny tot.

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