Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Choosing a Preschool
My little girl is FINALLY old enough for preschool. She is now "pre-kindergarten" age. Technically I could have put her in last year, but I didn't really see the need. She's been dying to go to school for ages though, so she is positively excited.
Choosing a school was much harder than I had anticipated. This is my first time sending a child to school, so it was new for me.
I picked up some tips through this last week of dilemma. I hope they help you and that you have some to offer if you've already sent one of your children to preschool.
1 - If you can avoid it, don't wait until the last minute. I didn't have much of a choice.... we just moved to our new house a week ago (and it's in an entirely new state), and school starts in just 2 weeks. I had to work FAST. As a result I felt pressured to choose. There aren't many spots left open in preschools at this time of year. Explore your options early so you can feel confident about your choice.
2 - Ask for suggestions. This one goes without saying... but it's important. I searched out 3 preschools and all of them came off of referrals from ladies in my ward. I had to be bold and ask FAST since I had just met them, but it was worth it.
3 - Go meet the teacher/see the preschool in person! Don't just make a judgement call based on what others have said or over a phone conversation. You might have different tastes/needs for your child than your friend. I had preconceived notations about the schools I was looking into and ended up choosing the one I didn't think I would after I had met the teacher and seen the school. I really liked one teacher over the phone AND in person. The other teacher I didn't really like when I talked to her over the phone, but upon meeting her in person I discovered that she's awesome, and just doesn't do well on the phone.
4 - Take your child with you to see the schools and meet the teachers. Let him/her be part of the process and if possible let your child give input. In the end I had narrowed it down to 2 schools that I really liked and I couldn't choose. There were pros and cons for both. It was a HARD choice. I asked my daughter SEVERAL times which one she liked better and every time she said the same one. Since she liked it so much I picked her preference.
5 - If price is a concern you can POSSIBLY get someone to lower their prices. At one point I had settled on one school and called the other teacher to let her know I had chosen somewhere else. When she asked if it was because of the price difference and I said yes, she offered to match the price of the other school! WOW! (I think it helped that school starts in 2 weeks and she wants to fill up.)
6 - Choose a school that fits the needs of your child. If I was concerned about my daughter academically I would have chosen preschool with very few children in it (there was one I looked at that would have had only had 8 kids in the class with my daughter). However, I was looking for a great social experience, so I ended up choosing the school with 16 students and 2 teachers so she would get more of a feel for what kindergarten will be like. This school is an actual building instead of a basement which really appealed to my daughter. I also picked the school that only had pre-kindergarten age children in the class, instead of one with 3 year olds in it as well.
7 - Pray about it. After we'd made the choice I told my daughter that we should pray about it to make sure our choice was good. What a wonderful opportunity to teach your little one about making big decisions WITH Heavenly Father.
8 - If it works for you and you don't have the money, do preschool at home or do a JOY school with other mothers in your area. I can promise you that your child will be academically sound for kindergarten if he/she knows the basics (shapes, numbers, colors, letters, sounds). If you are worried about it, contact a kindergarten teacher in your area and find out what your child needs to know before kindergarten.
I hope this helps!! What other tips do you have for choosing a preschool for your child?
Don't forget to check out Megan's post below about tips for starting school. Although I taught elementary for 3 years, I've never been on the other end of the spectrum. I too would love some advice on getting kids ready for school.