5 Tips to Finding Your Preschool Happy Place

school room

When I had my first son and decided to leave my teaching career behind for stay-at-home-mommyhood, I imagined that I would keep him home with me until he was ready to head to kindergarten.

I would teach him everything he needed to know at home and we’d get our fill of social interactions from mommy groups and mommy & me classes we enrolled in.

He’d learn to read by age 3, do basic math function by far, and be fluent in another language before his first day in elementary school. 

And, there would be music and dancing and unicorns and light.

He was signed up for preschool the day of his third birthday.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy having him at home, I just discovered that homeschooling wasn’t for me and neither were mommy groups.  Mommy & me classes weren’t even that high on my list of things I liked doing enough to pay for them.

Add to that the fact that he was having difficulty learning to talk (he wound up in speech therapy for a year), he was cripplingly shy, and I was expecting a little sibling that I wanted some bonding time with and preschool for a few hours a week just sounded really spectacular.

Once I decided that preschool was in our future, the tough road to finding one that would be a good fit was undertaken.  After an unfulfilling in-home preschool situation and a frightening church school experience, we finally found our happy place.

5 Tips to Finding Your Preschool Happy Place

1.  Consider your child’s personality.  My oldest son was not a good fit for the large preschool class setting.  He was uncomfortable with the noise and the chaos, he was easily overlooked in the large group setting, and he had a hard time connecting with so many kids at once.  He spent most days playing alone and avoiding interaction.  Preschool settings vary greatly based on the mission of the school so take some time exploring different facilities and assessing their classroom environments when the children are present.

2.  Figure out your schedule.  Does your child still nap in the afternoon?  Do you have other children who have to be dropped off for school in the morning?  Can you commit to three or five mornings of school a week?  All of these factors will help you narrow down a good fit for your family.  My middle son took an early afternoon nap daily until he started kindergarten so enrolling him in an afternoon preschool class was out of the question.  Oppositely, my youngest, who gave up his nap ages ago, is a great fit for an afternoon program because it allows me to get my older children off to school each morning without rushing.

3.  Determine your goals.  Some parents are just looking for their children to have a positive social experience, others want their children to be kindergarten ready academically when they finish up preschool.  All preschool curriculum is definitely not created equal.  Be sure you ask your potential schools about the curriculum they use and how they evaluate student progress.

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4.  Is it pretty?  And relaxing?  And inviting?  And warm?  Does it look like a place your child will be happy and nurtured at?  Or does it remind you of that creepy bathroom in Saw?  We visited one preschool center that literally looked like a psych ward hospital.  It was clean and sterile (you could smell the bleach from outside), but more than anything it seemed cold.  And prison like.  And scary.  Very, very scary.  Take note of the surroundings (both inside and outside) and even the staff composition (how they are dressed and how they interact with the children while you are there) because it can tell you a lot about how the center functions when no parents are on site!

5.  Ask your child.  Be sure you insist on a child accompanied site visit at some point before you commit to the school.  Your child can pick up on things (like how the other children behave) that you may be oblivious to.  After you visit together, be sure you ask him what he thought of the teachers and the the children and the tractors in the free play area.  Those things matter to a kid!  Plus, you want your son or daughter to have the chance to scope out their new digs before they are forced to join the ranks.  If nothing else, a little experience will help make the transition from home-with-mom-all-day to super-student an easier one.

 

Are your kids in some form of preschool or mother's morning out? 

What do you think?

5 Tips to Finding Your Preschool Happy Place

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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