This post is sponsored by KinderCare. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The process of choosing a preschool can be confusing and challenging for parents. With so many options, choices and program types, parents are often unsure of how to make the right decision. When it came time to choosing a preschool, I didn’t know where to start. I felt overwhelmed and wanted to be sure I found the right fit for my twin girls. With such different personalities, strengths and weaknesses, I was concerned about finding a place that checked all the boxes for each of them.
Choosing the Right Preschool
Looking back, I can honestly say that the process does not need to be complicated as I might have thought. There are a few things to keep in mind and consider as you get ready to make decisions.
Know Your Child
Start by doing what you do best as a parent — know your child. Before starting a search, think about strengths, weaknesses, preferences, learning styles and personality traits. Consider what your child enjoys doing and search for schools that will help foster their interests, social/emotional growth and educational habits.
We started by really identifying what type of environment each girl needed. Despite being twins, our girls really had different needs. E needed more nuturing and was quite shy. We knew she would need a small group and a teaching staff that would take the time to connect with her. I added these to my list and looked for them at each place we visited. O was more independent and needed a lot of structure to learn how to be in school – sit and follow directions and participate in group activities. It was quite the list of needs and I was concerned I wouldn’t find the right fit for both girls in the same place.
Consider proximity, curriculum, schedule, and reviews. Take your child on the visits when possible and see how they respond. While visiting, look at how the staff and other children interact – or how the staff communicates to your child. Look for conversations that are nurturing and encouraging. Another thing to do while visiting is to ask to see a schedule and get an idea for the structure of the day.
I got recommendations first and did a lot of research. This is really important to know the facts about the center before you visit. From my first list, I narrowed down the criteria based on tuition costs, location, and other qualifying factors (class size, number of teachers, length of day and programming offered.) When I finally scheduled visits, I knew a lot about each school and could really assess how well I felt the school executed their mission.
Look for Quality
A quality program is easy to spot. You’ll know it when you find it. Consider programs like those that develop: Literacy, STEM, and Creative Expression. With learning expectations ever-changing in our fast-paced, high tech world, you want your child to be prepared. You’ll want to look for other indicators of a high-quality program, such as small class size, a development-focused curriculum, and national accreditation. KinderCare is an exemplary institution that is dedicated to providing young children with a high-quality early education. The majority of the centers are nationally accredited and their staff works hard to stay the best at what they do. A KinderCare center checks all my criteria!
Trust Your Gut
The feeling you get when you walk through the door — go with it. Kids pick up on vibes, too. Try to schedule visits with your child so that they can ‘feel’ what it’s like to walk through the door. What feelings do you (and your child) get from the school. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Look for the environment should be bright, happy and clean – and the staff to be engaging and happy. A good teacher can truly set the tone for the school. Try to include both parents or another guardian/caregiver in the decision-making.
I knew the moment my daughters visited their school. They connected with the staff, who played with them and engaged them on our visits. I was able see how nuturing the staff was. I was able to see the schedule which reassured me about the right balance of structure and freedom. The quality of the building and materials, which were readily available to preview, were other signs that we were in the right place. I just knew and my husband agreed.
Finally, once you have chosen a program, don’t just sit back. Help your child prepare for their program by fostering great learning and hands-on experiences at home. But remember, play is a huge part of this, so have fun with it. Read books, go to the library, attend story sessions, cook together, do arts & crafts and just about anything to help build your child’s confidence and creativity! Having all parents involved in finding the opportunities for learning is so important. The smallest things can be great learning experiences.
We spent a lot of time getting our girls ready for school. My husband read books with them about school and talked about it. We visited the school another time and had fun preparing for their big first day. We made it a family thing – with everyone getting them ready and excited for school.
KinderCare put together a great resource HERE that talks about how a quality program today are the building blocks of the future little learners and leader – a definite
must read before you start your search.