Last week I made a quick run into Wal-Mart to pick up some things. The last time I had been there the front of the store was full of fun summer pools and rafts. As I walked through the door I was hit with the school bus yellow billboards and signs for back to school supplies. My first thought was “oh my goodness it’s not even August, way to ruin summer Wal-Mart.” This was soon replaced by that excitement of starting a new year. I have an obsession with school supplies! So the thought of stocking up was very appealing, dang those marketing geniuses! I also love the thrill of a new school year. A clean slate, a world of possibilities waiting, all you need is a shiny new backpack to take part, oh and don’t forget the matching lunchbox. I have heard this time of year referred to as the second New Year. It is a chance for us to start clean. There is a marked increase in gym activity and resolutions as parents send their kids off to a fresh new school year and try to revive some of their goals as well.
This got me thinking about my little ones. Both will be heading off to Pre School this year, I’m already fighting back the tears as I send my baby for his first year! I am often asked how to choose the best preschool, what do you look for? How do you know it’s the right fit? For us it was simple we have very few options to choose from. However, in many areas of the country parents are overwhelmed with the choices. They are bombarded with brochures and flyers and encouraged to attend large Pre School fairs in which the local Pre Schools advertise and try to win their registration. Do I pick Reggio, Montessori, High Scope, or stick with a public school option? Do I go with a cheaper option or take out a second mortgage to pay the tuition? These options can be overwhelming for anyone!!
Let me be the first to tell you the “perfect” preschool does not exist. Your “perfect” preschool however does. What do I mean by this? For you a certain preschool might be ideal where as your neighbor down the street may not find it is the right pick for her child. Each family’s needs and child’s needs are different. So there is not a perfect equation for finding the “perfect” preschool. I can give you tips and what I look for. However, in the end you have to decide what is best for your family and your child. You have to trust those mommy instincts. You have to find that one place where you and the child feel comfortable. A preschool where you can walk away each day and feel 100% confident leaving your little one behind.
My number one priority is that it is a play based preschool program. Over the next few days I will be sharing the characteristics I look for in a preschool program. Today we will start with how the preschool program fits your needs as a family.
How does the program fit your family’s needs
We all have hectic lives and therefore a preschool program needs to fit into those lives. Before you pick a program you need to stop and think about how that program will fit into your daily routine. For example, our preschool program is only 2.5 hours a day. This could be a working mom/dad’s nightmare trying to run back and forth that often. We lucked out and our amazing babysitter can do the pick-up on days we can’t. However, for many families a full day program would be a better option. I always advice families to ask themselves:
- Is the location of the preschool close to our home/babysitter/workplace or does this make a difference?
- Do you need a before or after school program and is one provided?
- What are the volunteer or parent participation requirements and do those fit your schedule.