Since 1990, the percentages of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs has grown from 33% and 56%, respectively, to 42% and 68% in 2013, per the National Center for Education Statistics. Clearly, more parents have come to realize that academic preschool programs are highly beneficial for childhood development.
Unfortunately, the truth is that not every preschool is created equal: some have more highly qualified teachers, better resources, and safer environments than others. That’s why parents need to be very diligent when embarking on a preschool search. Because many parents research new preschools during the summer months, we’ve outlined a few things to look for in a new preschool — and a few things you should hope you never see.
What Parents Should Observe In An Academic Preschool Curriculum
- A safe environment: Above all, your child needs to be safe during all preschool education activities. Your choice in preschool should be a secure, healthy environment where students are closely observed at all times.
- A balanced schedule: While a child’s day may be full of different preschool education activities, they should never feel rushed or fatigued by the strenuous pace. They should also not be forced to engage in activities for too long, or else they may easily become bored. An ideal curriculum should help children acquire and build on new skills, gain knowledge, explore their individual interests, interact with others, and achieve goals. This can help them become more independent, creative, and self-confident while fostering a love of learning and attitude of curiosity about the world.
- Teachers who care: Early childhood education teachers can make a world of difference in how children learn throughout the rest of their lives. Teachers need to be nurturing while still expressing clear behavioral limits. Overall, teachers should be highly engaged and passionate about what they do. This attitude will transfer over to the children in their care.
What Parents Should Not See In A Preschool Environment
- Unrealistic developmental expectations: Highly qualified preschool teachers should have an innate understanding of what can be expected from the children in their classroom. While they should encourage independence in certain ways, they should never allow children to take on tasks that could present a danger. Likewise, while the best preschool education activities challenge young children, teachers should have realistic expectations of what young children can and cannot learn at such a young age. If you observe a teacher who doesn’t seem to grasp how to interact with the children they’re teaching, look elsewhere for a preschool program.
- A disorganized or too-rigid classroom: A preschool environment does need to be carefully monitored. Children should not freely wander around without becoming involved in preschool education activities or play indoors without being observed. That said, the environment should not be too rigid, either. Children should be able to explore and play without feeling anxious. It can be a delicate balance, but it’s an important one. If students aren’t being watched — or are watched too carefully — you should consider a preschool with more experienced teachers.
- Inattentive or uninvolved teachers: Above all else, a preschool teacher needs to be involved in what’s going on in their classroom. Most states have regulations about student-teacher ratios for a reason, but without passionate teachers these rules are meaningless. Some teachers may feel they’re above engaging in their students’ playtime or may ignore their behavior. Not only does this not help children learn through play but it could also put them in danger. Teachers also need to actively set clear limits in the classroom. Children need to understand the consequences of certain behaviors. Should you see teachers who are disengaged or who let children run amok during preschool education activities, try another program.
With these classroom do’s and don’ts in mind, parents will be in a much better position to recognize a great preschool environment.
At Learn and Grow Academy, we pride ourselves on providing a safe environment and highly qualified instructors to help students thrive. To find out more, contact us today.