By now you may have heard about the many benefits of enrolling your youngster in an academic preprimary program. Preprimary programs are organized to provide educational experiences for children. They include kindergarten, preschool, and nursery school programs that focus on grade school readiness and overall growth and development during the earliest years of a child’s life.
These programs have proven to be beneficial across all areas of a child’s development, which is why three-fourths of young children in the United States are currently enrolled, and the number continues to grow. In fact, from 1990 to 2013, the percentage of three to five-year-olds participating in preprimary programs increased from 59% to 65%.
The high quality education provided by the academic preschool curriculum cannot be matched by any daycare center or at-home child care. The truth is that 25% of at-risk children are more likely to drop out of high school if they do not get a quality preschool education.
The decision to enroll your little one in a preprimary program is simple. The hard part is finding the right preschool for your child.
Three Tips for Finding the Right Preschool
- Know your priorities: When it comes to your children, you’re the expert. What matters most to you in a preschool program? Are you looking for a particular approach to learning? For instance, some align their parenting philosophies with one of several educational philosophies, such as the Montessori approach, the Waldorf approach, or the Bank Street approach. You might also be looking for specific activities or skills you want your child to learn, including dance, art, or storytelling. Whatever they may be, write down your priorities so that you can evaluate different programs based on your list.
- Research: Ask friends and family for referrals; after all, personal references are the most reliable. You may also want to consult experts in early childhood education. A stamp of approval from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is certainly something to look for as a reliable sign of quality childcare. Check out their searchable online database for accredited preschools.
- Go for a visit and interview: The only way to get a feel for the environment is to visit the facility in person. Talk to the director, meet the staff, visit the classrooms, and make sure to ask plenty of questions. Observe the center’s daily activities and watch how the staff interacts with the children. Ultimately, trust your gut feeling.
Finding the right preschool is only half the battle. Once you have decided on a preschool program, get on the waiting list. Quality academic preschool programs are highly sought-after and they fill up quickly. To increase your chances, try writing a letter to the director, thanking him or her for the tour, and explaining why your child would be a good fit for the school.
If you have any additional advice, feel free to post in the comments section below.