A child’s early years are critical for laying the foundation for later success in school and life.
This is why it’s so important to choose a preschool that has qualified teachers and staff who have a strong commitment to education.
The quality of your child’s preschool education can have a lasting impact on his development.
Preschool helps children develop skills that will be critical for their future success in school and beyond.
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC, preschool provides children with opportunities:
- Learn how to listen, follow directions, get along with others, and take turns
- Counting, ordering numbers from least to largest, adding items together, defining number words up to ten, matching numbers up to ten using symbols or words, and writing numerals 1–10 are all simple math concepts to remember.
- Learn about print and use letters and words correctly in oral language activities such as labeling pictures or retelling stories
- Develop social skills through interaction with peers and adults
In addition to learning basic academic skills, your child will learn how to express feelings appropriately; recognize what others feel; learn how to resolve conflicts; identify body parts; tell time; follow directions;
recognize colors; count from 1–10; write letters of the alphabet; recognize shapes such as circles, squares, triangles; count objects from 1–10 without repetition (i.e., “There are seven toys on the table”); recite rhymes and sing songs
How can you tell if your child’s preschool is high quality? Start by asking these questions:
Does the school require an early childhood teaching credential?
If not, consider other options because teaching credentials indicate that teachers have had at least a year of specialized training in early child’s preschool education category.
If you find that only one teacher has this credential—and the rest do not—ask why this is so.
Are there plans for staff development?
What does your state require regarding teacher credentials?
Do other parents share your concerns about this issue?
These are important questions that you should discuss with school administrators before enrolling your child at any preschool program.
You might also ask if there are plans for continuing staff development after the opening year or years of operation.
Be sure to visit classrooms regularly during scheduled open houses so you can observe classroom activities firsthand and talk with teachers during these visits.
Is there a separate classroom environment where each age group has its own space but where the children are able to interact with each other?
A classroom that has separate areas for the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is ideal.
Is there a ratio of staff to children that meets or exceeds state licensing requirements?
For example, in some states the maximum number of children allowed per teacher is 15. If your child’s school has more than 15 children per teacher, ask why this is so.
Is there a plan for providing qualified substitutes in case teachers are absent?
In most states, preschool teachers must have a substitute available at all times.
If you find that there are no substitutes on staff or no plan for finding one in case of an emergency, consider enrolling your child elsewhere.
Are all staff members well trained and educated in early childhood education? Staff members should have at least a high school diploma or GED; many states require at least an associate’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university.
Ideally, teachers should have earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and should have additional training and/or experience working with young children.
Some states require teaching certificates issued by the state department of education; others do not. Again, these are important questions to ask before enrolling your child at any preschool program.
Does the school offer structured activities such as circle time, small group time (for example, centers), arts and crafts projects (for example, finger painting), games (for example, Simon Says), reading stories aloud.
In summary, choose a preschool that offers your child a wide variety of activities and opportunities to learn and explore.
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