High quality education starts with preschool. Finding the right preschool will set the foundation for learning at a higher level for the rest of grade school. You may think of preschool as optional but it really should be a requirement. Academic preschool activities and curriculum prepare your child for grade school in a way that nothing else can. There are certain things to look for in a preschool in order to make sure that you get your child into the best there is available. Here are some ideas of how you know the preschool is setting your child up for high quality education:
- High Quality Teaching
While it may just seem like the children are running around and playing, a good preschool understands that there are learning possibilities everywhere, including play time. They will work with them to learn many different things through building blocks, connecting Legos or playing pretend. If the preschool you are looking at is focused on high quality education, then if you ask the teacher what the children are learning from a particular play time, the teacher should be able to give you an articulated answer as to why the students are participating in a specific activity and what they will learn from it. You should also not be afraid to ask about teacher’s backgrounds and experience.
- High Quality Environment
The environment includes everything how the preschool looks to how it feels; what kind of atmosphere it has. You’ll want to take a look around and make sure that the child would be safe if the teacher’s eyes weren’t constantly on him or her at every second. Rounded corners, no sharp edges, covered electrical sockets and general hygiene and cleanliness are good signs of a high quality environment. Children should not have to ask for toys during playtime. When you walk into the preschool you should see toys and stuffed animals readily available to the children to grab without help. Everything should have a purpose and a reason for how it looks and for being where it is. The room should feel warm and welcoming, not scary and intimidating.
- High Quality Attention
Teachers should be able to focus on the performance of each student. You might not like the idea of your child be tested but this is the start of high quality education as a whole; finding out where your child’s weaknesses are and working through them. This is not only about academic work. A good preschool will also focus on social and emotional growth. These assessments will help the teachers as well as you as the parents to make sure that important traits are developing correctly. Preschool is the best place to notice developmental delays if there are any. Parents should be notified right away if the teacher notices any learning disabilities and together they can come up with a plan to work with the issue.
- High Quality Interaction
Teachers should be able to communicate with the children on their level. Children feel less intimated if the adult gets down to their size. Sitting or crouching or kneeling next to a child gives him or her a subconscious connection to the adult. This is also important because it encourages the children to make eye contact when they are talking. Looking someone in the eye will help the child to talk longer and develop their language skills and communication abilities. Children should also interact with each other by choice. This is the only way they will learn how to share, solve conflict, compromise and negotiate. If you walk into a preschool, you should see teachers who are engaged, present and focused on their students. You should also notice a sense of trust from the child to the teacher. Children should feel comfortable asking them to play with them or running up and giving them a hug.
These are the main things that you want to look for in a preschool and thankfully, you’ll be able to see most of these things just by walking into a preschool and hanging out for a few minutes. Of course, word of mouth is always the best way to find anything. If someone else likes their experience, you likely will to.