Early childhood is a crucial time for children’s cognitive development. Many parents enroll their child in pre-school, with expectations of a curriculum that will prepare their child for future academic and life success. Often, the process of selecting the appropriate pre-school program can be stressful and many parents aren’t sure where to begin.
An important first step for parents is to know what they want for their child in a pre-school experience. Whether the goal is socialization with their peers or a learning environment with a high-quality educational curriculum, establishing this from the beginning makes the process of searching for and choosing a pre-school much easier.
“When looking for the right pre-school for their child, parents should take into consideration where their child is developmentally,” said Claire Haas, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care and education franchisor. “All programs have a different make-up of teachers, classes and facilities, so it is also important to visit as many as possible to find one that is the right fit for your family.”
Haas recommends the following tips for parents enrolling their child in pre-school:
- Start early. Begin researching programs in September the year before your child would begin pre-school. This will give you time to assess different options so that you are able to make an informed decision on where to send your child without feeling rushed. Keep in mind that most programs have open houses and enrollment periods from January to March.
- Establish your “must-have” list. Determine the needs of you and your child and what criteria each pre-school must meet to fulfill those needs. For example, do you want a full or part-time program? Does the school offer a hot meal, or will you need to pack lunch every day?
- Visit as many different programs as possible. It is important to do your legwork and know all of the pros and cons for each program you are considering. Don’t forget to look beyond your traditional pre-school options and also consider programs with educational child care centers. Give yourself ample time to visit different programs, being sure to focus on items from your “must-have” list.
- Request referrals. Ask other parents and friends about their pre-school experience to get an idea of what other people are saying. When you visit a school, talk to other parents and teachers to get their opinions of the program. If you are able to visit during drop-off time, pay attention to children and parents. Do they seem happy?
- Consider accreditation. Accreditation from organizations like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) verifies that a third party has evaluated the program and it meets national standards.
For more than 29 years, Kiddie Academy® has been a leader in education-based child care. The company serves families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. Kiddie Academy’s proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum, supporting programs, methods, activities and techniques help prepare children for life. Kiddie Academy is accredited by AdvancEd, signifying its commitment to quality education and the highest standards in child care. Kiddie Academy is an official partner of the nonprofit organization, First Book, and is dedicated to supporting children’s literacy.
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