You have visions of your tiny girl in tiny pigtails holding your hand as you walk up the stone steps into a stately brick building, the very beginning of her education stretching out before you both like the gorgeous green lawn sprawling on either side of you. Or, it's just really time to get the 3-year-old into big kid mode this fall and give you a chance to breathe forthelove. Maybe a combination of both. Either way, choosing the perfect preschool is a loaded concept, is it not? How can you possibly make the decision that will determine what college she gets into, which determines how much money she will make, and will she ever get married? The big leagues start at 3 years old, people!
Maybe not. Take a deep breath and keep reading. We've compiled a list of considerations as you shop around for the very perfect place for your little one to enter the world of education. Start by asking yourself: What do I want, honestly? Brew yourself a cup of coffee or pour yourself an iced tea, and sit down with a big blank pad of paper and a good pen and answer that question. Make a list of what you want, and hold nothing back. Inexpensive preschool? Write it down. Close to your home? Write it down. Do the same for everything you can think of.
Here are some more options to get you going:
What KIND of preschool do I want my little gem to attend?
Maybe you'd like a self-directed, multi-aged, sensory-rich environment, so a preschool using the Montessori method would be ideal for you. Maybe academics are more important at this stage and you'd like more of a Traditional/Academic preschool, in which worksheets and teacher-direction are the norm. Maybe you'd like to hold off on the academia for another year and you'd like to find a Play-based preschool. Another option, if you're interested in a hands-on, activities-based environment is Waldorf. And there's always the option to do preschool at home, as a precursor to Homeschooling, if that's your bent.
How much do i want to spend?
Maybe you have unlimited resources in your preschool budget so a higher-end preschool like Montessori is a good fit for you. Or maybe you have a very particular amount you can spend per month, so looking in to what the public school is offering is your best bet. And if cost is your biggest determining factor, don't let yourself bow to guilt. THAT'S JUST FINE.
How many hours should he be in preschool?
Are you putting your little one in preschool around your schedule, or do you have the freedom to pick her up whenever her preschool day ends? If you're job doesn't psync with hers, does the preschool offer after-school programs that would work for your family.
How old do kids need to be to attend this preschool I'm looking at?
Can you put your 3-year-old in the preschool you're considering, or does she have to be 4? Can you stay there as a 5-year-old, too?
Are there potty training requirements?
Is your son trained? Does he need to be to attend the preschool you're considering? Is the staff willing to work with you on this?
Do I care about student-teacher ratio?
Do you have it in your heart you'd like your daughter in a room with just a couple other kids and a loving teacher? Or would you like her to mix and mingle with a more diverse, larger crowd?
Once you've compiled your list and nailed down what you'd really like to see happen, check out what your options are in your area, and then make your choice. You've put every bit of good decision making into your little one's education as you've got! Bring on preschool! And good job, Mama.