When choosing a preschool, there may be many options to choose from. I want to help you navigate through this adventure, so that you can find a program that best fits your family. There are lots of factors to consider in this process, so I want you to bring you alongside my twelve years of teaching for a quick snapshot of which aspects will give you a head start on finding the right school.
The first aspect to consider is the hours that you are desiring. Preschool program hours vary immensely. Some are a couple of hours a day, others are half a day, many are full day, and in rare cases, they are 24/7. Plus there are some variations of all of those. Preschool programs may follow the school year schedule with your local school district and others are year round. Some families have flexibility as far as their schedule, which allows them to choose from nearly all of these options, whereas other parents may need full day preschool to accommodate their work schedule which will certainly prune down some of the choices from the get go.
The next aspect to consider when choosing a preschool is your budget. Preschool prices run the gamut across the U.S. I live in Colorado where preschool and child care tend to be on the higher side. Even though this is the case, there are still lots of options as far as tuition rates. Options that are more affordable are usually preschools that are non profit, in home preschools, or preschool programs in churches. The programs in the middle are preschools in many child care centers, district preschools, and programs inside of universities or colleges. On the high end are usually programs that are specialized preschools and corporate preschool programs.
I want to point out that you do not always get what you pay for. Yes, I will repeat that. Not all preschool programs can be judged by their price. Amazing teachers and administrators can be found in the affordable programs and as well as expensive programs. This is hopefully good news for many parents! The important aspect is to do your homework.
Next, you need to consider which type of program would be a good match for your child. Some children are easily overwhelmed and need to be in a smaller group size. Other children are very spirited and outgoing, and they may not conform well to programs that do not provide as much active play and social interactions. Perhaps your child is only okay with being away from you for about three to four hours, and after that, he or she starts to experience stress and may act out. You know your child best, so be sure to take these aspects into consideration.
Lastly, I want to point out that there is always the option of doing preschool at home. If you live in a small town with limited preschools around, having a homeschool preschool could be your best option. This is also a great route if your budget won’t allow for you to send your child/children to a program. Perhaps you just want to spend more time with your kids before they head off to elementary school. Whatever the reason is, a motivated parent can help provide a preschool learning environment with the amazing resources online, and lots of times, you can find fantastic free resources too.
I hope this helps give a starting point for any families wondering how to begin the process of finding a preschool. It might also be helpful to ask trusted friends which programs they recommend. When you find programs that “look good on paper,” take a tour and meet the Director and classroom teacher. I would recommend finding at least two options that you want to tour, and even more if time allows. I wish you and your family the best in finding a wonderful preschool program, and stay tuned to more information on how to help in the process.
If you have more specific questions, please feel free to list them in the comments section below!