According to research, kids who attend preschool have higher reading and math scores and are even found to have better paying jobs as adults.   Preschool is an important time in your child’s life where for the first time he is learning to navigate the world without you, his doting parent. With that said, choosing the preschool that is a good fit for you and your child is important. Below please find four things to consider when choosing the right preschool fit for your child.

1. Consider the school’s educational philosophy

2. Explore what the school’s faculty is like

3. Consider if the school’s classroom environment best serves small children

4. Explore how conflict and discipline are handled

Consider the school’s educational philosophy

Some of the more popular approaches to preschool education in the US include play-based programs, Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Co-op Preschools and more traditional academic programs. A play-based developmental approach assumes that kids learn best through play. Different stations are set up around the classroom and teachers facilitate learning while children learn and explore. There is a strong emphasis on social skills, taking turns, and resolving conflicts with words. A Montessori approach is based on the concept of “play is the child’s work” and fosters independence by allowing personal choices. Waldorf schools focus on creativity in the arts while emphasizing cooperation. Reggio Emilia uses a project-based curriculum based on students’ interests. An academic approach emphasizes activities that are teacher directed and promotes formal reading and math skills. When choosing the right school, it is important that the school’s philosophy and way of teaching matches with your family’s value system.

Explore what the school’s faculty is like

Make sure that teachers are speaking with their students in nurturing and encouraging ways. As you observe different schools ask yourselves if the teachers are speaking at eye level to the students. Are the teachers addressing the children by name? Are the teachers listening and seeking to understand their students? In addition, it may be helpful to explore what kinds of training your future pre-school teachers have. In essence it’s important to know that your children’s future teachers have the experience to really understand each and every child’s unique development.

Consider if the school’s classroom environment best serves small children

In a preschool classroom there should be areas for different play activities such as reading nooks, art tables and a make-believe corner. As you explore different preschool environments are you able to notice if there are areas where children can develop their fine motor skills and their gross motor skills?  On your path towards finding the right preschool make sure that your child will be encouraged to grow and develop in a variety of different ways.

Explore how disputes and discipline are handled

Observe and see if you feel comfortable with how guidance is handled. When looking for a preschool seek out those whose encourage a positive philosophy that helps kids understand what they can do as opposed to what they cannot do. Notice what happens when conflicts occur. If a conflict arises does the teacher intervene and slow things down? Does he/she encourage children to use their words and resolve conflict together? Is he/she able to redirect when necessary? The word “discipline” means “to teach”. What is the teacher teaching the children when there is conflict? Consider whether the teaching philosophy matches your parenting style and beliefs. 

Marilee Hartling RN, MFT | Infant & Child Development Specialist | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.