Tips for Choosing the Right Preschool

Tips for Choosing the Right Preschool | Baby Chick

Tips for Choosing the Right Preschool

Choosing the right preschool for your baby can be a really confusing (and really nerve wracking!) decision. Trusting anyone to take care of your child for several hours a day can be a scary thing. Luckily, there are ways of narrowing down your choices before you pack up your little learner’s tiny backpack and send them off. Here are some things you need to know before you choose your school:

First, know the lingo.

There are so many terms that you’ll come across when researching schools for toddlers. Preschool, day school, pre-k, Mother’s Day Out, day care . . . what do they all mean? Here is a quick rundown of the different terms you need to be aware of:

  • Preschool–while the term isn’t indicative of a formal education, it generally refers to a program that a child is provided care and a curriculum-led early education environment for one to three years before kindergarten.
  • Day Care–this term typically refers to an environment in which a child is cared for during the day (usually typical working hours, sometimes later) but is not necessarily engaged in an early education setting. There is generally no set curriculum or structured learning activities.
  • Mother’s Day Out (MDO)–this type of service is generally found in faith-based settings, like a church or synagogue. It’s kind of a hybrid of a day care and preschool because they will provide care for infants sometimes as young as 6 months through 5 years old. The older children often participate in structured learning activities and have a teacher-led curriculum.
  • Pre-K–this is a program offered to children in the year before they enter kindergarten. It is different from preschool in that it is more highly structured and intended to prepare children to enter into the more teacher-led style of education offered by most public schools.
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Nail down the basics.

You’ll need to ask yourself some logistical questions such as:

  • Do you want the school to be located close to your home or workplace?
  • How far are you willing to drive?
  • Do you want your child in a two-day, three-day, five-day-a-week program?
  • What is your budget?
  • What times do you need your child to be cared for?
  • Are there after-school programs that you will need?

Determine your preferred curriculum.

Just like learning the lingo for the different types of programs, you’ll need to learn some lingo to know the difference in what kind of learning environment your child will be in. Here are a few of the different styles of curriculum you’ll likely run into:

  • Montessori–this method focuses on the individuality of the child. This method believes that each child learns at his or her own pace and that this process should not be inhibited by comparing one child to another.
  • Child-centered–this type of setting takes the child’s interest into consideration when planning daily activities. Classroom activities are based on the interests of the children as opposed to teacher planned activities.
  • Faith-based–this is a preschool that is often run by churches and center the daily activities around their faith’s philosophies, often incorporating chapel and faith-based stories into the curriculum.
  • Teacher-led–this setting is the opposite of the child-centered setting. This setting focuses on teacher planned curriculum and activities and is more structured learning environment.

Do some real life research.

School websites are great for getting a feel for the school, but there’s nothing more informative than getting some real life opinions from people who have been there, done that. Start asking friends, teachers, moms in Facebook groups, etc., their opinions on the schools you’re looking into. They can give you some real insight as to the daily environment and curriculum that will be invaluable to your decision making process.

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Take a tour of the school on a school day.

When you’ve narrowed down your list to 2 or 3 schools, schedule a tour at each facility during the school day so you can observe the teachers, staff and children in action. Ask yourself things like:

  • Does the environment feel warm and welcoming?
  • Do the children seem engaged and happy?
  • Does it feel like my child would feel safe here?
  • Is this the kind of environment I can see my child thriving in?

Read the parent handbook and ask questions.

Typically, every school has a parent handbook that you can request a copy of before you enroll your child. Read it. Make sure you understand their policies and write down any questions you need answers to. Make sure you agree with their policies on things such as correcting behavior issues or whether or not they’ll accept vaccination exemptions if that’s important to you. Take notes when you get answers to your questions so you can compare and contrast each school to make sure it fits your needs.

Prepare to wake up early, stand in line or get put on a waitlist.

If you’re enrolling your child in a preschool program for the first time, be prepared to hurry up and wait. Generally, February and March are the prime months for enrolling your child for the following fall semester (crazy, right?!). If your child is a first time enrollee, you will likely only be allowed to enroll after the current students and their siblings are allowed to enroll. Which means that you may only be able to put your child on a waitlist. Don’t freak out if you’re waitlisted . . . it happens often and it doesn’t mean you won’t get in. And if you are required to register your child in person, be prepared to get up early and stand in line with a million other mommies. Kind of like Black Friday sales but without the bags of goodies at the end. And don’t forget to bring all your required paperwork with you when it’s time to enroll your child. In most cases, you will need the registration packet, a well-child statement from your child’s pediatrician, your child’s vaccination record (or an exemption form if the school accepts them), and a check for the registration fee.

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I know getting your baby into a good school can seem very overwhelming the first time around. But if you do your research and make sure you know what you’re looking for before you try to find a school, it will make the process that much easier on you. And it may take your child (and maybe even you!) a few weeks to fully adjust to being away from mama for several hours in a day, but I promise that your baby (and you!) will do just fine and you will both come to love school days!

About the Author /

Cheyenne is an attorney, writer, speaker and blogger with a slight obsession for home decor, red wine, and good coffee. Cheyenne’s blog, Sense & Serendipity, focuses on inspiring others to create a home well loved and a life well lived. Cheyenne lives in San Marcos, Texas with her two children, Aislin and Hawkins.

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Becoming a new mother, whether it be your first baby or your sixth, is filled with so many emotions. 🎢 Figuring out your new normal can take a minute as you recover from giving birth and get to know your new baby. People will be at your doorstep in no time wanting to congratulate you and meet your baby, but sometimes people aren't necessarily thinking about what they can do for YOU to be helpful. If you know someone who has recently had a baby or if you are currently expecting, today’s podcast episode is for you! ❤️ {Link in bio!}⁠
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Going to keep it real here, your fitness game is going to change after having kids. If you were crushing it before having babies, you're going to find that the free time for working out isn't what is used to be.⁠
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Regardless of where you were at, there are things you can do to make your heath a priority and be a good example to your little ones.⁠
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1. Don't rush back. There's no gold star here. Take your time, get the clearance from your OB/midwife and start when you're ready.⁠
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2. Schedule your workouts. Like most things in life now, you're on a schedule. Create time in your new life for you -- you'll thank yourself later.⁠
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3. Ask for Help. Chances are high that the Mom down the street is looking for some kid free time as well. You take an hour, she takes an hour and we're all better off for it.⁠
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4.  Embrace the little things. Your day will present opportunities to get your butt moving. Find them.⁠
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When you meet your baby(ies) and your whole world changes. 💕
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Speak your partner's love language in postpartum. Send this resource to your loved one so that they can make you feel loved and supported in a meaningful way.⁠
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Instagram post 17934950050319412 EXACTLY! 🙌 I wish more moms knew this and didn't feel pressured to say yes automatically to guests--of course, unless they want to! 😊 But you can always say no and not right now. Take your time to bond with your new baby. If you want people to come over, great! But don't feel bad if you don't and want more time alone with your family. People who love you should understand. ❤️⁠
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Instagram post 17857907638591275 Dinner time with toddlers can oftentimes be hectic and stressful. Sometimes they’ll eat what you’ve made them and other times they won’t. 😒 We’ve been there! This is why we are sharing two yummy dinner recipes that have been toddler approved that the whole family can enjoy—Taco Pizza and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes! 😋
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We substituted sour cream in these recipes with @stonyfield YoBaby yogurt because it provides not only the calcium they need, but also probiotics, protein and vitamin D! 👍 (Our pediatrician says our little guy needs 2-4 servings of dairy per day!) The yogurt still has that tangy flavor that you’re looking for but with even more benefits! Cheers to full tummies and happy families! 🙌 #ad #stonyfield
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