What to Look For
It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has gone by. It seems that only yesterday my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world. And now our little baby has grown into an active toddler—and preschool seems right around the corner. At first, we were overwhelmed by questions. How would we even begin our search for a good preschool?
A 2004 National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) report comparing several different state-funded preschools found that good programs depend largely upon where a child lives and his parents’ income. The report further explains that preschool education programs have widely expanded in both the private and public sectors (although at different rates), and private early childhood educational facilities are now predominantly operated by either for-profit, non-profit, and/or religious organizations.
Learning which of these facilities best fits you and your child’s needs is dependent upon a variety of factors. In our own search, we quickly found that with little planning, discussion, and research, we were able to make the right decision. You too can find the right preschool program for your little one—here are some helpful points to get you started in your search.
Is curriculum your most important priority? Does the school need to be near your home or workplace? Does class size matter to you? Parents should first sit down and write a list of needs and priorities that a preschool facility should reflect—for them as well as for their child. “Parents should look for a program that fits the needs of their child. It is very important that a program be developmentally appropriate,” says Stacey Rees, owner and educational director of Island Kids Early Childhood Center in Northport, New York. “Children should be participating in a variety of hands-on learning experiences each day. These experiences should help them to develop fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, social, emotional, and self-help skills.”