What Do You Need To Look For In A Preschool Program?

Posted on: 3 August 2017

Preschools help young children to learn, grow, and develop. You want the best for your child. That means giving them a smart start when it comes to school. Here's where pre-k comes in. It provides kids with the chance to learn basic academic skills (such as identifying letters or counting up to 10) along with developing social, emotional and physical abilities. With all the benefits your child can get through a preschool, choosing the "just right" one is obviously essential. What do you need to look for in an early childhood education program?

Personal Preference

Keep in mind, the perfect pre-k for your child may not be the "top" school in the county or the number one pick on your local parenting magazine's list. You have your own personal preferences, and these are major factors in your selection process.

Start your search by thinking about what is important to you when it comes to your child's early education. Is there a specific educational philosophy (such as Montessori or Waldorf) that you want to explore? Do you prefer a half-day or full-day program? Do you need a preschool that has an extended day or daycare program too? There's an almost endless list of possible issues, concerns, wants and needs that all become part of your personal preferences. Even though one school may not check every box on your list, it's likely that you can find a program that gets close enough to make you feel completely comfortable in your choice.

Teachers and Staff

You want to know that your child is learning from someone with training and experience in early childhood education or child development. Unlike elementary, middle and high school teachers, preschool teachers aren't always required to have a state educational or instructional license. That said, they should have an education that extends beyond their own high school diploma.

Look for teachers who have specialized educational training in teaching/working with young children. This may be a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree or even a graduate degree. Along with this, the teacher should have some sort of experience working with preschoolers. This doesn't always mean that the teacher has years and years of work experience under their belt. They may have participated in a college-level internship, working in a pre-k under the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Don't forget about the rest of the staff. Even though aides and assistants typically don't have the same level of education/experience as lead teachers, they should have at least some knowledge of early childhood practices and child development.

What else do you need to consider when it comes to picking a preschool? Along with your preferences and making sure there's a top-notch teacher, you also want to investigate the curriculum, health and safety policies (such as sick child rules or hand-washing requirements for the children) and a current state/local child care license.