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Choosing a Preschool

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Dear Debi,
We are currently looking for a preschool for my 3-year-old granddaughter, and I would like to know what we should be looking for?
Elizabeth McElroy
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Visit several types of programs
  • Look for loving teachers, happy kids & age-appropriate activities
  • Preschool encourages cognitive, language & social skills
Expert Advice
Susan Baxter
Susan Baxter
Early childhood education instructor
A preschool program is an opportunity for children to be involved in a social setting. Different schools will have different kinds of programs but what they all have in common is that they have some sort of curriculum, a schedule and a routine. A high-quality preschool program will encourage your childís cognitive, language and social skills, which can make the transition to kindergarten easier.

When choosing a preschool, check first to make sure the program is licensed by the state. The facilities need to be age appropriate and well maintained both indoors and outdoors. Ask about the teacher/child ratio. There should be about one adult for every 10 four- year-olds. Check to make sure the school is set up to keep children safe from preventable illness and injury. Where is it located in and are the gates secure? You may also want to consider additional factors that might be helpful to parents and grandparents: is it near work or does it provide the familyís cultural needs.

The main difference between a home-based preschool program and a center-based one is that a home-based program is usually considerably smaller than a center-based one. So, if your child takes a little longer to warm up to new people and situations or if this is your childís first time away from home, this would certainly be something to take into consideration.
Child Care Provider Comments
Angela Johnson
Angela Johnson
Mother of two
I would recommend finding a place that is licensed. Consider how many kids will be in your childís class. Find out what the child to teacher ratio is. Think about the kinds of activities that you want your kids to be exposed too? Do they have family-style eating (which reinforces their table manners)? Do they have a grass area and other play areas? You should check and see if it is faith based or if it supports any other kind of practices. She should think about the preschool as being an extension of their family. Make sure that the preschool is comfortable giving them the same things that you give them at home.
Cathy Agnew
Cathy Agnew
Cares for her grandchildren, mother of two
I recommend visiting several preschools before making a decision. Talk to the teacher to see what their philosophy is. Observe the way they interact with the kids. Talking to other people and getting referrals is very helpful too. Be diligent when looking for safety. Are the toys at the kidís level? Do the kids need to climb to reach for toys? Is the door locked? Safety is very important in a preschool setting.
Darlene Morales
Darlene Morales
Mother of one
The main thing to look for in a preschool is to find a place where a child is going to be nurtured and developmentally challenged. Make sure you agree with the philosophy of the preschool.

The Importance of Play in Preschool Featured Activity:
The Importance of Play in Preschool
Choosing a Preschool Featured Video:
Choosing a Preschool
Topic: Child Care Management
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Resources
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
1-800-359-3817
 
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