I feel bad writing this post right now because the time to choose a preschool is more in the late winter/ spring since that’s when registration typically falls. However, it’s been a subject on my mind as my daughter attends her second year of preschool and I talk with friends and neighbors about the preschools they’ve chosen for their kids. It made me realize that not all preschools are created equal and there should be a good thought process/ questioning stage before sending our kids off to them.
First and foremost- preschool is not required. It’s not something you have to sign your child up for, especially because it can be a HUGE financial responsibility when you factor in monthly tuition for 8-9 months for one child, let alone multiple children over multiple years. There are a lot of preschool curriculums you can purchase to use at home if you’re willing. Our favorite is Playing Preschool by Suzy from Busy Toddler. But there is also NO shame in not doing a full-on preschool curriculum at home with your child either!
If you’re looking for an in-person preschool, here are a few tips and questions you can look into before choosing the correct one for your family:
Ask about the curriculum and look for keywords like “play” and “social interaction”. It shouldn’t just focus on letters, numbers, shapes, and strict learning. If you have to ask about playtime, that’s a red flag! Almost every preschool will have playtime built into the day, but if it’s not something they bring up without prompting, it’s not their sole focus.
Here are multiple posts on why preschool is not just letters and numbers:
An entire page on multiple early childhood resources focusing on play, preschool, and independent kids.
Can you tell our previous writer, Mary, and I are incredibly passionate about this subject?!
Another tip: tour the preschool if possible! Look at the setup, are art supplies, backpack hooks, toys, and other supplies at a child’s level? This promotes independence and gives children access to a world that often shuts them out.
Does the space feel safe and somewhere learning can happen? Is it open and ready for play?
Is the preschool within a reasonable distance from your home, or is there a bus/carpool system?
Questions to ask:
Is homework ever required? (Unless the homework is to play, paint, enjoy childhood, or only if the child wants to do it, the answer to this question should always be NO.)
How much is monthly tuition and are there any other fees on top of that? (You need to make sure it’s affordable and sustainable for your family!)
What school supplies is my child required to have? (Again, affordable and sustainable for your family.)
What is your goal for the children throughout the school year? (If they say something along the lines of “have them reading before kinder”, please RUN far away and do not incline your 4-5-year-old to the pressures of reading before kinder.)
What are some daily activities they will be participating in? (Painting, play-dough, pretend play, singing, reading, and other fun activities along those lines are the answers you’ll want to hear.)