Are you looking for a preschool? If this is your first experience with the pre-k process, take a look at the do's and don'ts to consider as you visit different early learning centers and search for the best educational environment for your child.
Do Think of Your Child's Individual Needs
It's easy to choose the preschool that every other parent in your area says is the "best." But is this school really the best place for your child?
Each child is an individual. This means your child has distinct needs as a person and as a learner. If the school doesn't, or can't, meet your child's needs, it isn't the right choice for your family. When it comes to specific needs, consider your child's age, developmental level, learning style, temperament, interests, and your family's beliefs.
Don't Forget about Creativity
It's easy to get lost in expansive pre-k curricular materials or promises of kindergarten readiness. Even though academics have their place in the preschool classroom, these aren't the only areas to look for.
Along with early literacy, math, and science, ask the program's staff what type of creative or artistic activities the students regularly engage in. These could include anything from pretend play or dramatic dress-up scenes to finger painting and collage.
Do Ask about Independence
As they grow and develop, your child will become increasingly independent. This means they need a preschool environment that can help them to build self-reliance and self-help skills such as dressing, toileting, and eating without assistance. Before you choose a pre-k for your child, ask how much independence the children are given and what the school's/teacher's expectations are.
Don't Skip the Classroom Tour
The best way to learn about your child's potential new school is first-hand. This requires you to go into the classroom and watch the teacher in action (if possible). If the school offers a classroom visit, don't skip this opportunity. If they don't offer a trip into the pre-k room, ask if you can visit.
In some cases, visitors are restricted due to safety concerns. Even though this may prevent you from a school-day classroom visit, ask about the possibility of walking through the room before or after school hours or watching from the door.
From understanding your child's individual needs to touring the facility, choosing a preschool center is a process that may take time. Keep in mind, the better you understand the program, the more comfortable you'll feel about your child taking the first step down their educational road.