Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What should a parent look for in an expensive preschool?

In expensive preschools, what do you look for? What kind of learning experiences do you think are valuable?What should a parent look for in an expensive preschool?
Although I am a stay-at-home mom, I looked at some of the more expensive preschools when I was considering going back to work. I believe you should look:

1. A low teacher turnover. You don't want your child to have to keep bonding with different adults. Also, I think high teacher turnover indicates that the teachers are not happy/well-paid/whatever.

2. Qualifications that exceed whatever your state's standards are.

3. A child-adult ratio that is beyond the state requirement. If your state requires a 4 to 1 ration (four children to 1 adult), you want a 3 to 1.

4. Age appropriate playground equipment.

5. The head of the school to have an appropriate degree and experience working with children.

6. An on-staff nutritionist

7. Supplemental classes offered at the school, e.g. dance, gymnastics, music, foreign language, etc.

8. Plenty of unstructured free time.

9. Cleanliness--how often do they clean everything?What should a parent look for in an expensive preschool?
From what I've been reading, physical activities, gymnastics, play, especially unstructured, is far more important intellectually than pushing for early reading. So as far as learning experiences, I'd want to see them reading books and teaching the kids to love them, but also doing things like walking beams, hopscotch, jump rope, 4-square, dodge-ball (little kid style of course), kickball, etc. I would want to see a play ground that is NOT shared with a bunch of other people that can be cleaned regularly (I know some preschools that use a local park... ugh. Talk about security problems...)

I would like to see strange experiences encouraged. For instance... do they have a dog? A rabbit? A guinea pig? Fish? Animals can really help children learn empathy. I'd love to see a garden.

I'd want to know what 'learning system' they subscribe to (and why) and how they qualify their teachers. I'd want to see children climbing into teacher's laps and snuggling.

Then snack-time concerns. Do they offer them or do the kids bring them? If they offer snacks, what snacks do they offer, how do they clean, etc. How do they make sure a child with allergies or parents with concerns are addressed?
Well I don't understand why it has to be an expensive preschool, but in any preschool you go and tour and get information about you should look for these things along with others: Safety, ex: how you check in/out your child each day, cleanliness, what they will be doing all day, ex: do they post the schedule for the week, do they send home worksheets they've done for that day. When I went preschool/daycare hunting I'd look at the toys and furniture is it old raggdey umm just stuff like that.

And always remember, don't be afraid to ask any questions, no matter how silly you think the question is who cares...they are providing you a service of taking care of your child. They want to make you happy and pretty much have to!
Look for a place with happy children. Talk with other parents of enrolled children. Ask to sit in unannounced for a couple of mornings. If they serve a lunch show up at lunchtime to see how much and what they eat.

Anyone can claim anything on paper. Have the attitude that says, ';If you want my child, SHOW ME! ------------- The key word here is UNANNOUNCED.
A grant. To me there is no point in an expensive preschool, just one that pays attention to each child.

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