Selecting Preschool

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Many factors need to be considered when you're looking for a quality preschool and it takes time to find the right one.

Teachers Make a Difference

Qualified teachers are an important part of your child's early education because they're the ones who will instruct your child, and offer comfort and encouragement.
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  • Ask the preschool director about teacher qualifications, such as the number of teachers who have completed college courses or degrees in early childhood education.
  • Find out if teachers have been trained in CPR, first aid, and infection control.
  • Ask how long teachers have worked at the school.
  • Watch how teachers interact with the kids. They should be warm, affectionate, and show enthusiasm about the children's projects.
  • Make sure the teachers are having conversations with the kids in their class.
  • Watch to see if the teachers are kneeling down so they can play and talk to kids at eye level instead of looking down at them.

Curriculum Matters

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A quality preschool should have its lesson plans available for parents to read. This will tell you what your child will learn throughout the year. Look for a curriculum that:
  • Has a variety of learning opportunities where kids are taught in a class setting, in a small group, or one-on-one with the teacher.
  • Offers a range of activities from solving puzzles to playing outside.
  • Lets teachers “connect the dots” by linking your child's experiences to learning objectives. For example, if a child drops a ball, the teacher could talk about gravity.
  • Find out whether the teacher can tell you not only what the class is doing, but also why they're doing it.

Take a Look Around

Next, consider the place. When you visit a preschool, look at the classroom and play areas and find out:

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  • Does the school meet state regulations for teacher-to-child ratio? In general, there should be one teacher for every 10 kids.
  • Are there separate learning centers for writing, art, and reading? Is there a good playground? Do children have access to computers?
  • Does the classroom have plenty of books and educational toys, such as blocks and puzzles?
  • Do they provide breakfast or lunch? If so, check the menu. Make sure the meals and snacks are nutritious and include lots of fruits and vegetables, and that beverages are healthy - mainly water and reduced-fat milk.
  • Do the children in the classroom seem busy and engaged in an activity?
  • Can parents stop by at any time during the day?

As you're searching for the right preschool, don't be shy - ask the preschool director and staff lots of questions!

If you can't find a quality preschool, check with your local First 5 county commission to see if Summer Pre-K programs are offered through the school district. Pre-kindergarten programs are often held for several weeks in the summer to help get kids ready for school.

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