Choosing which preschool to enroll your child in can be a daunting task! There are so many different choices, and it might be hard to differentiate between each one. Keep reading as we will breakdown ways to spot a high-quality preschool program.
Characteristics of a High-Quality Program
High-quality preschool programs are in demand with parents. Here are some characteristics to look for when choosing a preschool program for your child:
- The school is a safe, healthy, environment.
- The school, classroom, and teacher are child-centered.
- The teachers are engaged, attentive, and knowledgeable of child development.
- The classroom is stimulating with age appropriate, open-ended, easily accessible items.
- Classrooms are inclusive and respect each child’s cultural background.
A Safe and Healthy Environment
In a high-quality preschool program, there is significant intention behind the structuring of the school and classroom. Each should be organized, and clean. This prevents the occurrence of accidents and reduces the likelihood of illnesses. It is important that the staff adheres to all health and safety rules and regulations mandated by your state and local agencies. An organized classroom signals that the teacher is equipped to provide the structure and tools that children need to learn. Teachers have more time to focus on their students when they can, easily, locate the tools they need throughout the day. Organized classrooms provide a sense of security and calmness for children.
Child-centered Schools and Classrooms
The focus of a school should be placed on ensuring that they are meeting the developmental needs of the children. The school and each classroom should be setup so that each child can easily access the materials and toys they will use throughout the day. Additionally, the curriculum that the program selects should be developmentally appropriate. A high-quality preschool program will not rely on the use of worksheets, flashcards, and the creation of projects that are beyond a child’s developmental level. A high-quality preschool program will meet each child where they are developmentally, and will work alongside the parents to help the child progress.
Engaged, Attentive, and Knowledgeable Teachers
A high-quality preschool program is comprised of teachers who are educated in early childhood. Many of the teachers in these programs hold degrees in the field, and are continually utilizing updated research to inform their decisions within the classroom. They engage with their students, and guide their learning in a way that expands upon the natural curiosity of the child. They spend much of their time observing their students, and documenting the progress they are making. They also prioritize open communication with each family, as they understand that the family is an important asset in their students’ educational journey.
Classrooms are Stimulating and Age Appropriate
High-quality preschool programs are intentional in how their classrooms are designed and arranged. The furniture in the rooms are sized appropriately for the age of the children. This allows the students to be able to move around independently, and to understand that the classroom is for them to explore as they choose. The students’ artwork is prominently featured throughout the classroom. This communicates to the students that their creations are important and are valued. It also is a great way to demonstrate the progress the children are making in their development. High-quality programs provide children with open ended toys. Open ended toys can be played with in a variety of ways; children can use their imaginations when they are playing. For example, children can use blocks to create miniature cityscapes or use the same blocks to learn math concepts.
High-quality preschool classrooms are inclusive. They respect the diversity of each student. This means that they incorporate each child’s cultural and social backgrounds into the classrooms. For example, dolls and books are provided that represent the students in the classroom. Classrooms are also inclusive of the diversity of abilities amongst the children. Children should be able to freely move around and explore their environment regardless of their ability. By creating an inclusive classroom, teachers ensure that each child feels comfortable and safe to be themselves.
It is important for parents to consider each program and are knowledgeable about what their goals are for their child. Enrolling your child in a high-quality preschool program will help set them up to be successful. High-quality preschool programs provide the foundation for each child’s academic future.