Sending your child to Preschool is a big step not only for him or her, but for you as well. There are a vast number of preschool options and educational philosophies to explore, and finding the right fit for your child is an essential part of a strong and positive educational journey.
First things first
Your first step in the process is to outline the needs of your family – and specifically, of your child. Parents must consider factors such as cost, location, schedule, teacher/child ratio, accreditation and parental involvement opportunities. Additionally, individual children's needs must also be taken into consideration. Does your child need a nap, and will the school accommodate that need? What are the disciplinary procedures? Is she adept at navigating unfamiliar social environments? Is a play-based curriculum best for him, or would he be better served by an education-based approach?
Lisa Arthur, a 10-year teacher at Children's Learning Program in Zionsville, describes her school's approach to preschool education: "(Our) environment is characterized by a structured freedom to explore various aspects of a child's social, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual individuality with guidance from educationally qualified, caring professionals. We believe very strongly in a parent/school partnership, so we make communication through newsletters, emails and direct teacher contact a priority." Arthur adds that their preschool makes it possible for enrolled students to receive small group and individualized instruction through their enrichment program with activities addressing fine and gross motor delays, reading readiness, letter and sound awareness, beginning math, social skill development and more.
Some preschools follow specific educational models, such as Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia. If you're considering a preschool with such a philosophy, make sure you fully understand and are aligned with the chosen educational approach.
Finding a fit
When you're ready to begin your preschool search, it's important to start early. Allow yourself time to research, make visits and talk with teachers and directors. And on a more practical level, many preschools have limited capacity and available spots fill quickly.
Mom of three, Laura, sums up her preschool search this way: "We have three kids very close in age. When the oldest started preschool, we looked for a faith-based curriculum that was within a 10-minute drive from our home. We talked to teachers and observed the classroom to make sure the environment would be a good fit. We were interested in a good balance of play and education, and our ultimate choice was the perfect blend of everything we wanted and needed. Our oldest son thrived there, and so did our middle child. When the youngest was ready for preschool, however, we switched schools. It was a decision based almost exclusively on our schedules at that point. We needed something more closely aligned with a traditional school day. Both experiences, however, were positive for all our kids. There are so many options out there – the most important piece of the puzzle is finding what works best within your own family dynamic."
Ultimately, deciding on the right preschool for your child is a choice best made once you've researched all your viable options. Arming yourself with information and insight before beginning this exciting journey will help you find just the right fit for your child… and your family.
For more information about Indianapolis-area preschools, begin with these helpful sites:
Questions to ask a preschool
Tags: Featured Article, Featured Article, In This Issue, Preschool
What is the educational philosophy of the school?
Is the school licensed/accredited?
What is the student-teacher ratio?
What is the staff turnover rate?
Can you provide references from parents of children attending the school?
What are the qualifications/experience level of your teachers?
Are children required to be potty trained?
How do you communicate with parents?
How do you handle discipline?
What is a typical day like?