Part one of three: Could finding the right preschool be harder than finding a husband?
When one Mom•Logic Mom started searching for preschools, her older son was 18-months old. She
begged asked strangers on the street, women in the checkout line and pretty much her entire neighborhood for thoughts on the best schools in town. After several school visits and comparing philosophies and requirements she discovered the "best" preschool is actually a personal choice. As important (if not more) than the curriculum, is how well the school fits with a family's needs. In fact, her list of fifteen schools quickly dwindled down to three based on potty training, age cutoff, and schedule.
We called Dr. Michelle Nitka, licensed clinical psychologist and preschool guide, for tips on finding the right preschool. "Choosing a preschool, and being chosen, has come to feel like a competitive sport. But, despite what some overachieving parents think, admission to the 'right' preschool will not set your child on the road to Harvard."
Dr. Nitka says asking yourself the following questions will get you going in the right direction...
Schedule. Do you want your child in a half-day or full-day program? Do you need flexibility in days/hours?
Some schools have specific days/times for certain ages, while others offer options.
Location. How far are you willing to drive every day to school?
Money, Money, Money. Let's be honest, price matters. Look for hidden fees in annual fund drives, endowment funds, galas, etc. You can expect to add thousands to the tuition at some preschools.
Educational philosophy. The choice between traditional academic, developmental, cooperative, Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, etc can get overwhelming. Do the research to see which best fits your child.
Religious affiliation. Preschools that are affiliated with a church or temple aren't necessarily religious. However, it makes a difference to many parents.
Diversity. Some schools are founded on the idea of having a diverse student body, while others are extremely homogeneous.
Special needs. Does your child require help that might affect whether a preschool is a good fit? Some preschool directors are exceptional at working with and including children with special needs, while others seem to regard it as a burden.
Participation. How involved do you want to be? Some school require a great deal of parent participation. Is that a good thing for you, or is your work schedule less than flexible?
Potty Training. Some preschools are strict with the toilet-trained-only rule. Others are more lenient and assist parents in getting it done.
Want tips on getting into the perfect preschool for you? Look for part 2 of this series-- Preschool: When You've Found the One coming up soon!