Sending your child to preschool for the very first time can be a really emotional time for any parent — especially for international parents.
Your little one will take her first steps in the world by herself, so you naturally want to ensure she gets the best possible experience. Deciding where to enroll your child can be a little overwhelming when faced with the many different options available.
Thankfully, there are great options for your child. Here are the types of preschools most commonly found in the U.S. and some guidelines on how to decide what would work best for your child and your family.
Co-op or cooperative preschools are run by parents in partnership with education professionals. In some cases, the school may be run entirely by parents, who also double up as teachers in the classrooms. Such a school is called a full co-op.
In other cases, school is managed and taught by professional educators but parents are expected to volunteer once or twice a month as classroom helpers. The advantages are:
Preschools run by churches or other religious institutions also offer similar benefits with some religious education added to the classroom curriculum.
Some issues that parents may run into with co-ops are:
If your child is shy and dislikes large groups of children, a home-based preschool may be the way to transition your kids into a bigger school. This type of school has an informal home-like environment and has a very small number of kids that can be less alarming to little ones. The small class size also ensures more individual attention. This can lead to kids achieving more academically, especially if the teacher is a well-trained and dedicated individual.
However, there is usually only one main teacher in such a school although there could be a helper teacher, which means there is very little oversight related to the teacher’s activities. Since the school may be less regulated you would need to ensure that teacher has all the required certifications and licenses for herself and the premises.
Many school districts across the country offer preschool programs in the local public schools. Residents local to the district can apply for admission. Many districts offer free preschool admission to low-income families through the Head Start Child Development program.
Families who do not meet the income criteria for Head Start usually pay an inexpensive fee. School bus transportation may not be provided to the children. President Obama has repeatedly stressed on the importance of high quality preschool programs and wants to expand funding for the programs.
Things to think about before enrolling in a publicly offered preschool program:
Montessori preschools follow a specific method and curriculum founded by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early twentieth century. Some features of the Montessori Method include:
Some points to consider before enrolling your child:
Some preschools may use a different curriculum mixed in with certain aspects of Montessori.
There are a number of well-known preschool chains that operate across the country in the form of franchises. The schools are characterized by:
Some features to watch out for:
In some places like New York City, certain preschools can act as Feeder schools for highly-coveted private schools that have limited admission spots. If you want your child to go to one of the latter, you need to plan for it.
The early years do play a significant role in a child’s development. It is important to consider all aspects of the school and personally visit the preschool before reaching a decision. Sometimes your decision can hinge on a simple unforeseen factor like how your child interacts with his prospective teacher and that can make a world of difference.
Ready to search for a preschool nearby?