Choosing the right preschool for your child

Today’s young students are expected to arrive to kindergarten with a foundation of basic academic and social skills. From the first day of school, students must be prepared to begin learning to read, write and do basic math.

Three children eating in classroomThough choosing a preschool that will help your child meet kindergarten standards may feel daunting, the decision can be simplified with a few key pieces of knowledge.

It may sound like common sense, but doing research can easily be a missed step by on-the-go parents. A simple Google search may give you a slew of options, but digging deeper is where you will find important information. Set aside a block of time to sit down to visit websites and explore the details of the preschools you are researching.

For children to reap the full benefits of early education programs, especially in lower-income communities, preschools must be high quality. Children in disadvantaged communities are at the greatest risk of losing essential progress when enrolled in a lower-quality program. Research shows that the quality of early education and care significantly impacts academic and social development.

The relationships that children build with their caregivers are as important as the relationships developed with adults at home. Quality educators practice methods that enable children to build fundamental communication skills and a sense of security, while providing a safe place to explore and learn. Keep an eye out for educators who include families of all languages and cultures, creating a welcome atmosphere and sense of community in the classroom.

Schedule a time to visit in-person to gauge how teachers interact with students. Observe if teachers engage in activities with children and if the room appears well-equipped and reasonably organized. Activities like interactive book reading, meaningful decision making and guidance in group activities are positive signs to keep an eye out for.

Be sure to choose a preschool location for your child that is realistic for your commute. For some parents, it may not be a challenge to drive across town to their preschool of choice. For others, convenience may be the most important factor.

Many online resources can help parents narrow down and refine preschool search by a variety of factors including age, sibling discounts, facility type and more. Quality First – a signature program of First Things First – supports parents with information about what to look for in quality early childhood programs that goes beyond health and safety to include a nurturing environment that supports their child’s learning. Use the Quality First search tool to find quality early care and education programs near you.

Use the Quality First search tool to find quality early care and education programs today!

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.