When you’re ready to select a preschool for your child, it can be an exciting time, and it’s definitely a time when it’s important to make the right decision. To help, we’ve gathered together wisdom from experts, including from a detailed PBS article on how to choose a preschool.

First, it’s important to recognize that not everyone is looking for the exact same environment. This means your sister, best friend or neighbor may recommend a school that isn’t necessarily the right fit for your child. Some parents, as the PBS article points out, are looking for a bustling place full of other children, while others are looking for a smaller, more nurturing school. Location and/or the hours of operation may be especially important to you. So, first make a list of your requirements and then of the preschools that seem to fit your overall needs.


Then, consider which preschools on your list are a good fit for your child’s personality. Can you imagine your child thriving at a particular preschool? Plus, watch the children interact. Do they seem happy when you observe them? Do they seem bored? How engaged are the teachers and other staff with the children? Do they seem to enjoy their jobs or are they just putting in time?

How clean is the school? How much attention is paid to safety? Is the school accredited? These are just some of the many factors that PBS suggests you review when choosing a preschool for your child. And, once you’ve identified one that seems a good fit, make sure you’ve also checked out the following issues:

  • How can you become involved in the preschool? Is there an organization for parents that’s active? Can you volunteer? If so, how?
  • How will the preschool communicate with you? Do you get email updates? If you have questions for the teacher, how are you expected to communicate? How often do you meet with the teachers?
  • How are conflicts resolved? For example, how do teachers help children learn how to resolve their own problems? When do they step in? How do they handle issues such as hitting?
  • What are the disciplinary procedures? How will you be involved if issues arise with your child? Are you comfortable with the disciplinary policies?

Also ask about educational philosophies. Do you favor those that start a focus on math and reading earlier than others? If so, then take a careful look at the next section of this post.

How to Choose a Preschool: A Look at Academic Preschools

On the surface, earlier academics may seem like a good idea, but an article by Parents.com points out that earlier doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, the professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois states that “too much early experience in worksheets, drills or flash cards may backfire later.”

What’s actually important when reviewing types of preschools, the article points out, is the degree of focus on social competence. Preschool is a time when children should learn how to cooperate with one another by playing together and working on projects together. It’s a time when they should solve problems together and think about other people’s feelings so they can build the foundation of vital social skills.

Academics are important, of course, so the preschool teacher should take advantage of having the children count four crackers, for example, for their snack and otherwise incorporate learning in age-appropriate ways. But, the expert concludes that “Parents should be worrying about whether their kids are doing enough creative play at preschool, not whether they're doing daily worksheets.”

You can find more useful information about the types of preschool options in this article by Parenting.com.

We’d love to talk to you about the preschool program at Horizon! You can find information here and here, and you can contact the center nearest you. We look forward to speaking with you!

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