How to Choose the Best Pre-K Program for Your Child

If you are the parent or caregiver of a toddler and are thinking of getting them started at daycare or a pre-k program, the choices may seem overwhelming. However, many parents find that a good pre-k program is beneficial not only for the child but for the whole family.

girl and boy observing in a preschool classroomIn addition to the educational component, enrolling in pre-k provides parents and caregivers added flexibility to be able to work, continue their education, or care for other family members. In many cases, pre-k programs are low-cost but offer many benefits to both kids and parents.

Keep reading to discover some of the best ways to choose the right preschool or pre-k program for your child.

Plan a Site Visit

One of the first things to do when seeking a suitable pre-k program for your child is to plan a site visit. By visiting the facility, you can get a feel for how day-to-day interactions occur and learn about the policies of the program to see if they will be a good fit for your child.

Contact pre-k programs in your area to set up tours. Reputable facilities have no issue with prospective parents coming to visit.

Site visits also allow you to meet with the teachers who will be primarily interacting with your child daily. You’ll learn about a teacher’s unique teaching style, how they work with children, and how well they handle stress. You will also be able to make some key observations about the teacher. Teaching small children is no easy feat and involves much more than assigning tasks and doing creative projects.

When preparing for a site visit, always ask yourself what type of environment you believe will allow your child to thrive. If your child is very active or has special learning requirements, keep these things in mind when trying to pick the best school.

preschool teacher reading to kids in a classroomAdministrators need to understand your child’s specific needs so they can be clear about what they can and cannot accommodate. For example, if your child is very active, it’s probably better to go with a pre-k program with a flexible educational philosophy. If your child is more of an introvert, a controlled, structured environment may be a better fit.Also, be sure to take note of the child-to-teacher ratio in the classroom. For children who need extra attention, a higher student-to-teacher ratio may present problems and will not adequately prepare the child for kindergarten and beyond.

Don’t forget to observe the students in the class. Look at how they interact with the teacher and other students. If the children do not seem well-adjusted and happy overall, you may not want to enroll your child in that program.

Ask Questions

Observation is certainly helpful when trying to decide on the right pre-k program for your child. You should also prepare a list of questions before your visit. The following are some questions you may want to ask when visiting a preschool or pre-k program:

– What type of work will my child be doing regularly?

– How are different learning styles accommodated?

– How do teachers handle conflicts among students?

– How much parental communication will there be while my child is enrolled in the program?

– How can parents help augment what is taught in the classroom?

– What is the dominant educational philosophy for the program? In other words, is it more relaxed, or is it more structured?

– When was the facility built?

In addition to asking direct questions, don’t be afraid to research before making a trip to a pre-k program. Often, the information found online can help you determine whether a trip is even necessary. Be sure to read reviews with an open mind and understand how to separate a truly bad review from a parent who may be overreacting. Also, gather input from friends and family members who have enrolled their children in a pre-k program.preschool kids working at a table with the teacher

Finding a Pre-K Program Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

For parents who are nervous about enrolling their children in a preschool program, many fears can be alleviated with a little research and planning. Be prepared to see varying learning and teaching styles and don’t feel pressured to choose the first school you visit. Always consider what the program offers as well as your family’s budgetary concerns to make an informed decision. By following the tips here, you can make the process of choosing a preschool or pre-k program for your child less stressful.

Additional Resources:

A High-Quality Preschool Starts with Great Teachers

What is a Preschool Exploratory Day

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