61% of American children under five learn and grow in preschool programs each year. These lucky little ones spend their days learning in home daycares, preschool buildings, church basements, and even forests! Some children learn to write their names with crayons, others with sticks in the mud.
With so many different types of preschool programs out there, how will you decide where your child belongs? The key is knowing what to look for when exploring unique preschool options for your child. The process involves a little bit of research, but it will be worth it when you find your perfect match!
From Reggio-Emilia to Forest Kindergarten, do you know where to begin the search?
We’ve created this brief guide to help make your preschool selection process easier. Keep reading to learn three tips to keep in mind when you’re in the market for a new preschool program.
Learn About the Philosophy of Education
Different types of preschool programs have unique philosophies of education. In other words, every school has different beliefs about how children learn. This can impact everything from the materials in the classroom to what’s served at lunchtime.
Each philosophy will use different types of preschool curriculum programs. Thus, the school’s philosophy dictates your child’s entire day!
For example, an academic, play-based program might incorporate learning centers for preschool. The teacher will curate the environment and children will play broadly. They will spend the majority of their day involved in meaningful play, but teachers may utilize workbooks or scripted curricula, too.
In a Montessori program, such as the one at The Montessori School of Downtown, children will use specially curated Montessori materials. They may prepare their own meals and snacks during the day. There will be an emphasis on caring for the classroom and school.
Furthermore, at a Waldorf school, families follow the school’s philosophy at home, too. Waldorf families choose to forego screentime and use only natural, open-ended toys. Children are not explicitly taught to read or write until they are eight years old.
Take a Tour of the School
The physical environment of an early childhood education program is also significant. Some schools, such as Forest Kindergartens, take place entirely outdoors. In most cases, however, you’ll want to visit the classroom and get a feel for the learning environment.
First, find out where the children eat, nap, and play. Is there a playground and a gross motor space available for cold or rainy days? What materials and spaces will your child have access to each day?
Try to take a tour during the school day so that you can catch the children in action.
Talk to Happy Parents
Before you make your final decision, ask to speak to current preschool families. It can be surprising to learn what parents love about a school that isn’t mentioned in the fancy brochures. You might want to ask about family involvement, and the ways their child has grown since starting at the preschool.
The Right Types of Preschool for Every Child
Every child is thoroughly unique, and they deserve to learn and grow in a stimulating and engaging environment. The many types of preschools out there offer something for children of every temperament under the sun. Do your research into the different types of preschools in your area and you’re sure to find a wonderful fit for your family!
Still on the fence? Check out the rest of the blog for more parenting posts that can help make all of your child-rearing decisions a little easier!