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Preschool or Daycare: What’s Best For Your Family?

preschool vs daycareDeciding on the right childcare option can feel like an overwhelming task for families with young children. It’s important to remember, though, that there’s no “one size fits all” solution here. Rather than thinking there’s a single winner in the preschool vs daycare debate, parents need to realize that the right choice comes down to the needs of the individual child and the family. Many facilities will even offer both options to facilitate an easier transition and increase their appeal.

That said, there may come a time when you want to weigh your options. Instead of putting together a preschool vs daycare pros and cons list, we’ve put together some key factors you’ll need to consider when making your choice.

  • Cost: While the price of your childcare option shouldn’t be the only consideration, it’s one that’s a big priority for many families. In some cases, there may not be that substantial of a difference in costs, which means your decision will come down to other factors. Ultimately, whether you choose daycare or preschool, your final choice needs to be affordable and worth the investment. A costlier program doesn’t always indicate quality, either. That said, there are often times wherein you will get what you pay for. You’ll want to take this figure into account, even if it’s not your deciding factor.
  • Hours of Operation: In 2012, approximately 67% of children whose mothers worked part-time or full-time were enrolled in center-based childcare. Working parents will likely need to consider the operational hours of preschool vs daycare options on their list of possibilities. Typically, preschool programs have shorter hours every day; some offer both half-day and full-day sessions, but some programs don’t take place every single day. Daycare centers are often more flexible with their hours and will usually accommodate working parents. They also aren’t as likely to close for the holidays or school breaks. However, if extended or flexible hours aren’t especially important to your family, daycare alternatives like preschool might hold a lot of appeal.
  • Enrollment Age: When trying to decide between daycare vs preschool, you’ll need to take the age of your child(ren) into consideration, too. Many daycare programs accept a variety of ages, from infants or toddlers to preschoolers (and even beyond, in some cases). Preschools, though, usually require students to be between three and five years of age. Some preschools may make an exception here and there, but they’re typically a bit stricter about enrollment age. Additional requirements for preschool often include potty-training and other abilities, so your decision may come down to age and personal development.

While these are not the only factors to consider when deciding on childcare or early education, they often play a key role in making this choice. To find out more about our programs, please contact us today.

Don’t Forget About These 3 Things During Your Preschool Class Tour

tour a preschoolLocal preschool programs play a huge role in the lives of countless families. For young students, the chance to learn in a preschool classroom can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on their development. Between 1993 and 2012, the percentage of three- to six-year-olds able to recognize all the letters in the alphabet increased from 21% to 38%, and the percentage of those able to count to 20 or higher rose from 52% to 68%. This difference can be at least partially attributed to the growing popularity of preschool programs in the United States.

In order for your child to reap the benefits of preschool, you’ll first need to decide which program is right for them. There are countless factors to consider here, like the program’s philosophy, the cost, the location, and the reputation of the school itself. When you tour a preschool, you’ll have the opportunity to see a facility for yourself, meet with staff members, and ask any questions you may have pertaining to the routines or requirements for preschool children. However, when you tour a preschool, you’ll also want to keep an eye and ear out for the following:

Teacher Attitudes

Staff qualifications are important, but you’ll also want to observe their interactions with students and with each other. Ask yourself whether they seem overwhelmed or too busy to really give the students their attention. How do they speak to the children in their class? Has there been a lot of staff turnover? Have many of the teachers been there for many years? Do they seem burned out, or are they cheerful, welcoming, and tolerant? In many cases, these behaviors matter just as much (or sometimes more) than their experience in the field; really, it needs to be a show AND tell situation.

Student Behavior

While not every preschool student will be a poster child for good behavior, their actions can give you a sense of how they feel about their surroundings. When you tour a preschool, discern whether the students seem generally happy and engaged in what’s going on around them. If several students are upset or are fighting over toys or games, this might indicate that the teacher doesn’t have control over the class. Do the children know how to put items away? Do they welcome others into the fold? If so, this will likely show that the teacher has instilled good habits and promoted tolerance among their students.

Sense of Community

When most parents tour a preschool, they’ll want to decide whether there’s a true sense of community there. It’s not just about academics, though the classroom learning component is important. Preschool students need to feel a sense of belonging — and their parents do, too. You may want to observe the student drop-off in the morning to see this for yourself. Are all parents and children welcomed as they come in to the school? Who provides assistance for morning drop-off time? And what happens if a child has a tough time separating from their parents? If teachers and staff are nowhere to be found, that’s not a good sign. When children go into their classrooms that morning, are there lots of activities they can participate in? How do their teachers behave when they arrive? And what efforts are made to make each class feel like one part of the community as a whole? Be sure to answer these questions to gain a better understanding of what it’d be like if your family decides this is the right preschool center for your child.

While these are by no means the only things to look for during a preschool tour, these elements can tell you a lot about how happy your family will be once you enroll. To find out more about touring our facility, please contact us today.

3 Signs Your Child Is Ready For Preschool

is my child ready for preschoolResearch projects that teacher employment will grow 10% between 2016 and 2026 thanks to the increased demand for early childhood education. In other words, there are more options for schools and teachers than ever.

While knowing how to choose the right preschool can be a challenge for many parents, so can answering the question, “Is my child ready for preschool?” Every family and every child is different; in this situation, you are the best person to judge when your child might be ready to attend the local preschool program of your choosing. Still, many parents worry they’re sending their child to school too early or have waited too long to start. There’s no one right answer here, but the following three signs can give you a good indication as to whether it’s time to explore your options for a high quality education.

  1. She’s potty-trained
    This first point isn’t so much a personal judgment call as it is a requirement — at least for some of the schools on your list. If you’ve been asking, “is my child ready for preschool?” but she isn’t yet potty-trained, you may want to keep her home for a little while yet. While it’s not a requirement for every preschool, many do require students to at least be on the journey of potty training. Although being fully potty-trained doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is academically or socially ready for preschool, it can be a decent indicator that your child is ready to master other skills.
  2. She seems bored at home
    When children are yearning for more social interaction or academic challenges, they may start to act out at home. It may seem like a behavioral problem, but in some cases, it’s a sign that your child needs the new activities your preschool program can provide. Ultimately, their newly mischievous demeanor may indicate that grade school readiness is on the horizon. After all, you can’t be expected to provide all the stimulation that preschool can. When your child is clearly craving something more, it may be the right time to get her enrolled.
  3. She’s a fast learner and wants to know more
    Have you noticed your child has become more independent, communicates clearly with you, and catches on more quickly to concepts you teach her? These signs may mean she’s ready to take on all the challenges that come with preschool and that she’s hungry for even more knowledge. Having a strong memory recall and stronger communication skills, along with being able to master new skills, quickly says that your child will likely thrive in preschool.

Being able to openly communicate and grasp new skills has no definitive time table. That’s why so many parents worry about the “is my child ready for preschool?” conundrum. In the end, you’re in the best position to determine whether your child is ready to embrace this new environment. However, if you’re feeling stuck or you’re letting your own attachment to your child cloud your judgment, look for these three signs and see whether they might sound familiar to you. If they do, you may want to start your search earlier than planned.

Your Preschool Classroom Checklist: What Parents Should Look For

preschool classroomApproximately 75% of young children in the U.S. participate in local preschool programs but finding the right preschool for your family can be a challenge. Typically, an important part of this process is making visits to preschool classrooms on your list to see whether they meet your standards as a parent. Do you know exactly what to look for in a preschool, though? While each classroom will differ, this checklist can act as a great guide to help you recognize the outstanding facilities in your area.

Top Things to Look for In a Preschool Classroom

  • Room arrangement: The classroom should be arranged to give enough space for several children to play and move freely in the room’s main areas. In addition, quiet spots and active areas should not be situated directly next to each other. There should also be designated areas for independent use.
  • Personal care and safety: Allergies and dietary restrictions should be posted somewhere in the classrooms, as should hand-washing instructions where sinks are located. Parents should make sure these hygienic rules are enforced during their observation. Electrical outlets should be covered when not in use. First aid kits should be adequately stocked and rules about leaving the classroom should be readily enforced. Exterior doors should remain inaccessible to children.
  • Preschool education activities: An ample number of books — in good repair and from a variety of genres — should be made accessible to students at all times. Books should be read to both groups and individuals, and other storytelling, song, and communication activities should be encouraged. Art materials should be stored in labeled bins or shelves and made accessible to students. Props, clothing, and other dramatic play materials should be organized and accessible. Building blocks should be accessible and housed in a designated area.

Ultimately, not every preschool classroom will feature the same types of displays, activities, and setup, but this checklist is a great place to start. To find out more about our preschool program or to take a tour of our facilities, contact us today.

The Connection Between Preschool and Social Skill Development

how to find a preschoolFrom 1990 to 2013, the percentages of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased by 9% and 12% respectively. That means that more families are realizing how big an effect local preschool programs can have on their children’s grade school readiness. It’s certainly true that academic preschool activities can allow children to reach higher levels of achievement in terms of classroom learning, but parents should also take other benefits of preschool into account. Case in point: the connection between preschool enrollment and the development of social skills.

Sharing, Cooperation, and Role-Playing
Very young children will engage in what’s referred to as “parallel play,” wherein they’ll play beside other children without much interaction. In preschool, children start to transition into interactive play, allowing them to engage with other children. This type of play often involves make-believe scenarios, which lets them explore grown-up situations like teaching, shopping, playing house, and more.

This is about so much more than playing pretend, though. In these scenarios, children start to understand sharing, cooperation, and acceptable behavior. Whether this happens through supervised exploration or through mimicry, children develop the foundation for skills on which they’ll rely throughout their lives.

Language: Speaking and Listening
Once you learn how to find a preschool for your family and enroll your child, it’s likely that your son or daughter will start utilizing their language skills more and more. Talking aloud to other children or teachers and learning how to use words to direct actions and express feelings will help quite a bit in this regard. Preschoolers also learn about the hallmarks of listening in class and how important it is to show respect, sit quietly, raise their hand, and wait for their turn to speak. Children start to develop awareness about the words they use and the power those words hold, too.

Self-Esteem and Emotional Expression
An increased sense of independence fosters self-esteem. When children establish and accomplish their own tasks, their self-confidence will start to grow. The same goes for being able to express their emotions and sense of creativity, to follow rules and routines, and to take on classroom responsibilities. It’s important that both parents and teachers take the time to recognize these efforts and accomplishments, as the praise preschoolers receive will reinforce their learning.

Knowing how to find a preschool can be difficult, but there’s so much your children will have to look forward to once you decide — including the development of these social skills.

Half Day Vs. Full Day Preschool Programs: Which Is Better For Your Child?

half day preschoolThere are numerous factors to consider when choosing a preschool for your family. The proximity to your home and work, the cost, the reputation of the facility, and curriculum philosophy will all likely come into play when making this decision — but your family may also need to take a preschool’s schedule into account.

Whether you and your significant other both work full-time or you’re simply trying to determine what kind of routine would suit your family best, you may have to weigh the pros and cons of a half day preschool versus a full day preschool. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong here; much of this decision will depend on the needs of your child and of your family. In this post, we’ll talk a bit more about full day and half day preschool programs to help you during this process.

Full Day Preschool May Improve Grade School Readiness
In terms of whether most families favored half day or full day programs, it’s currently at about an even split. Of the three- to five-year-olds who were enrolled in preschool in 2015, about 51% attended full day programs. In some cases, those who attend preschool for the entire day may be in a better position to develop their young minds.

According to select studies that have delved into this topic, data shows that full day preschool programs can help children make major academic gains. This is particularly true when the students in question have underdeveloped literacy, math, and vocabulary skills. One study found that approximately 80% of children who attended full day preschool were at or above national school readiness norms, while approximately 58% of children in half day preschool programs were at or above these levels.

Furthermore, an Ontario-based study from the early 2000s found that full day preschool programs had positive impacts on students’ language and academic learning, as well as parental satisfaction with the programs themselves.

But Half Day Preschool May Be Better For Some Families
Ultimately, the right choice here depends on your child’s unique traits and your own parenting values. Many children fare wonderfully in full day preschool programs. Even if the initial adjustment period is difficult, lots of students flourish with this type of routine. But what works perfectly for one family may not be ideal for another. For parents who are able and want to spend more time with their children during the workweek, or for children who may have a much more difficult time adjusting to that much time away from home, a half day program will still provide a high-quality education.

Regardless of the choice you make, it’s important to know that your child will be able to reap the benefits of preschool programs. Before you begin your search, discuss whether you feel a full day setup will benefit both parents and child or whether you want to seek out half day programs. That way, you’ll prioritize this schedule from the get-go and can focus in on programs that truly fit your family’s criteria.

Preparing Your Twins for Preschool: Tips for Parents

local preschool programFrom 1990 to 2013, the percentage of three- to five-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs like preschool increased from 59% to 65%. Clearly, most parents today understand the importance of enrolling their children in preschool. While finding the right preschool program for one child can be tough, trying to choose the right local preschool program for two students can be an even bigger challenge. If you’re a parent of twins, you may run into twice the difficulty when it comes to deciding on a preschool and preparing your children for this change. We hope the tips below will help make the transition a bit easier for your whole family.

  • Start looking early
    Although it’s not guaranteed that a school with a long waiting list will definitively offer a high-quality education, it’s likely that a very popular preschool is popular for a reason. When you need to enroll two children in school, you can’t take your chances about securing these spots. Therefore, it’s important that you start your search early (ideally, about a year ahead of time at least) and narrow down the choices early on. Take tours, talk to staff members, and see whether you feel your children will do well in these environments. Keep in mind that if you live in an urban area or a town in which preschool is a highly competitive enterprise, you’ll need to give yourself some extra wiggle room in case you aren’t able to get them in the first year.
  • Determine whether they should stick together or separate
    For parents with twins, each school year may come with the question: “should my children stay in the same classroom, or would they benefit from being separated?” There are differing philosophies when it comes to separating multiples; some people believe that separation allows each twin to flourish independently and discover their own identity, while others believe that a shyer twin might suffer without their more outgoing sibling there to balance out the partnership. Ultimately, this choice is totally personal and should be determined by the parents. If it’s important to your twins’ experience that they be separated, you’ll want to choose a local preschool program that can accommodate your wishes. If you want your children to stay together, you should communicate that to school staff. You’ll want to re-evaluate this decision each year, and as your children mature, you can include them in the conversation.
  • Sign up for community programs
    Preschool can provide your children with grade school readiness, but it’s your job to make sure your children are ready for preschool. Consider signing your children up for some community programs (like ones you’ll find at your public library, museums, or summer camps). These programs can provide them with some experience that will come in handy once preschool starts, like quietly sitting and listening, crafting, and socializing. Twins are used to being physically close to one another. They may need to learn more about how they should behave with other children and with their teachers. While their special bond can’t be broken, they’ll come to understand that it’s unique to them.

Finding a reputable and local preschool program for your children can feel overwhelming, but the solution might be directly in front of you. To find out more about our school and how your children can benefit from it, contact us today.

What Matters When Picking A Preschool

local preschool programFor many parents, picking a local preschool program is one of the first important decisions they’ll make in terms of their child’s education. Not only can attending preschool have a direct effect on grade school readiness for all, but 60% of at-risk children were found to be more likely not to go to college if they didn’t get a head-start with a high-quality education in preschool. Even if you know attending preschool matters, you may not know which factors mean the most when selecting your program. Which are the most important things to look for in a preschool? We’ll explore them here.

  • Teaching philosophy
    There are all kinds of preschools out there, ranging from academically challenging to play-based. Each has their merits, and there’s likely a preschool that will fit in quite nicely with your parenting style and desires for your child’s education. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone, but it’s important that you choose a school with a philosophy that’s reflective of your own. Even if a particular school is highly ranked and respected, it may not be the right fit for your family if its emphasis doesn’t line up with yours.
  • Scheduling and routines
    Your own work constraints may determine the kind of preschool that works best for your child. If you don’t have a flexible schedule of your own, a half-day preschool might present more of a burden on your family in several ways. However, if you have some flexibility with your job, that sort of schedule may be the best way for your child to receive a good education without sacrificing family time. You’ll also want to get a good feel for what your child’s day will look like once they’re at school. Children will typically benefit from having a specific daily routine, but you know your child better than anyone. If you have specific concerns or questions about how a school structures their students’ day, be sure to get clarification and assess whether it will serve your child well.
  • Class size
    There are several benefits to having lower child-to-teacher ratios (or class sizes of 15 of fewer. Smaller class sizes have a positive impact on students, due to the tendency towards easier management, and better cooperative play and engagement–and a lower child-to-teacher ratio will allow for more individual attention. While these are important factors, a smaller class size will have little or no benefit without well-qualified teachers, so that should be part of your evaluation as well.

In the end, there are many things that will go into your choice of a local preschool program: the school’s central philosophy, its structure, and the quality of the teachers. It is important to keep your values and needs in mind when making your decision. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have. We’re here to help!

Signs You’ve Chosen A Safe Preschool For Your Children

how to find a preschoolKnowing how to find a preschool that aligns with your parenting style and educational requirements can be tough enough, but in today’s world, families also need to focus on safety. While we can’t always predict accidents, your local preschool program should take the initiative to provide ample protection for students. How can you tell if your child will be getting a high-quality education and be safeguarded against harm? Look for the following signs.

Your school informs you about surveillance and safety measures they take
While 70% of at-risk children are more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime if they don’t receive a good preschool education, no child should ever become a victim of a crime at school. One of the most obvious signs of school safety is that the facility shares the measures they take. When asked, school officials should be able to tell parents precisely how they protect their students. Academic preschool programs should limit premises access and monitor exterior doors and the perimeter. They should also monitor the interior of the school.

It’s not just about keeping dangers out of the school. Classrooms should be childproofed and follow proper safety procedures, which you may be able to pick out from a facility visit. Of course, your school should have fire alarms and fire doors in every room. You’ll want to ask about fire drills and how children are educated in regard to safety to make sure staff members are being proactive with students.

The staff members are highly trained and remain there long-term
You may not initially consider turnover as a factor when you’re figuring out how to find a preschool for your child, but it can be more telling than you realize. A high level of turnover usually signals some internal issues with staff retention or hiring. If teachers are under-qualified or are unhappy, end up leaving after a relatively short time. In general, look for a preschool that has higher retention rates, as this usually means more personal investment from the teachers and better bonding with the students.

In addition, teachers and staff members should be trained in first aid and CPR. The facility should meet licensing standards, and staff members should be eager to provide you with any certification or copies of documents you may need.

The environment reflects school policies and is a clean, healthy place
Overall, the school should practice what it preaches. Classrooms should be clean and free of hazards, while staff members should encourage hand-washing and other cleanliness habits. There should be reminders of these practices throughout the facility to ensure lifelong healthy practices. Above all else, the school’s policies and practices should line up. Visiting the school before you enroll your child can give you an excellent idea of what you can expect as a parent.

Knowing how to find a preschool can be a real challenge for any family. In your quest to find an academic-based preschool that’s right for your family, you can’t forget about safety features like these. While we all hope for the best, it’s important that schools are prepared for the worst. That way, your child will be as safe and healthy as possible throughout their time in preschool.

Does Your Preschool Have A Balanced Approach To Learning And Play?

academic preschool activitiesBetween 1990 and 2013, the percentages of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs increased to 42% and 68%, respectively. Clearly, finding the right preschool is a top priority for many American families. However, because approaches to early education vary so widely, it can be tough to know what kind of philosophy will serve your child best. A great preschool experience can allow a child to receive an even higher quality education later, so choosing a preschool for your child can be a high-stakes decision.

Research has found that children fare best when they are able to participate in academic preschool activities and learn through play. If you embrace a mixed philosophy — meaning that you understand the benefits of academic preschool but want to make sure your child also gets the chance to play and develop social skills with their peers — here are a few things to look for in early education programs.

  • An emphasis on literacy
    Preschoolers are not expected to know all their letters and numbers going in to preschool, but literacy is a good way to judge the academic integrity of a preschool program. Letters, words, and books should be available to children. Pre-reading skills can be developed in a multitude of ways, from traditional learning to involvement in art, story time, and crafts can support literacy and writing skills later on.
  • Periods for play and social activities
    A lot of parents fail to realize that academic preschool activities extend beyond classroom or book learning. Learning through play is just as valuable, so it’s key that parents ask about whether social learning will be part of their child’s daily routine. Play allows a child to understand sharing, compromise, language, and emotional processing, all of which are necessary for grade school readiness. Look for an academic preschool that understands play is a vital part of the learning equation.
  • Ways to incorporate math and science
    Although addition and complex experiments may not be included in preschool programs, there are ways to encourage an understanding of numbers and science early in a child’s education. Counting, arranging, and understanding spatial relationships can act as the building blocks for math, as can problem-solving and critical thinking activities. High-quality preschools will also try to capture students’ interest in the way the world works by incorporating interactive activities in science such as, basic experiments for this age group.

Finding a program that embraces your philosophies and incorporates important academic preschool activities can be a challenge, but parents also need to make sure play is included in these routines, too. During a visit, be sure to ask questions pertaining to a facility’s overall philosophy and how their activities support that philosophy. This will give you a good idea of how your child will learn and grow during their time as a student there.