Finding the right preschool for your child is downright terrifying. The choices are overwhelming, the deadlines tight, and the pressure to get it right is immense. So, we’ve put together a couple of steps to finding the best facility for your child to help you be prepared.
1. Start researching early
Aim to tour at least one school before your child is due to start preschool. Visit as many schools as you can within that year, and if you can’t get an appointment at one, be persistent.
2. Attend fairs
This is a great way to find preschool programs. Fairs offer the opportunity to ask other parents about facilities and programs. To find a Guardian preschool near you, click here.
3. Book a tour
Once you’ve found a preschool you’re interested in, attend an open house to hear about the admission process and submit your application forms and fees. Sometimes you can bring your little one along to tour while classes are in session and spend time in a class.
4. Discuss how often and how long you want your child to go
Typically, children go to preschool for two years, between about 2.5 and 5 years of age. Preschools often run half-day programs for about four hours a day on weekdays. Others offer full day programs.
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5. Signs to look for in a well-run preschool
While touring a preschool to decide which one is best for your child, look out for these signs that the school is well run:
- Home-to-school connections – those schools that involve families often have the strongest programs. It helps teachers to feel supported and everyone can work together for the child’s development.
- Structure – a quality school will have a structure and will follow a solid model, along with guidelines for dealing with challenging behaviours and situations.
- Discipline policies – policies ought to emphasise positive approaches to instilling new skills.
6. Red flags to be aware of
There are also red flags you should look out for that may mean the preschool is not well run, including:
- Programs that only focus on reactive strategies, like consequences or punishment for bad behaviour
- No research-based and consistent curriculum
- Teachers who are not adequately trained or passionate about what they do
- No enough space for children to play or engage in gross motor activities, cramped classroom, dirty and disorganised spaces
7. Potty training policies
Not all preschools require your child to be potty trained before they attend. If your preferred school does, figure out what approach will work best to get your child using the potty before school starts.
8. Adult-to-child ratios
It is recommended that preschool classroom groups should not be any bigger than 20, with an adult-to-child ratio no greater than 1:10. Talk to the preschool about these ratios and try to observe the numbers when you take a tour.
The preschool you choose should offer things that are important to the community, such as using eco-friendly practices or offering organic food.
10. Trust your gut
Finally, when it comes to narrowing down the options, trust your gut. You know what your child needs, and you want to ensure he or she is treated with respect and in a way that aligns with your family values.
Take note of these steps as these will ensure that you find the best facility for your little one.