The Preschool Puzzle: Find the Perfect Fit

Preschool open houses are in full swing, so the time to start looking for a school for your little one is now. Southwest Ohio has a wide range of quality preschool options — so many, that it can be a little difficult to know where to start! Here are some important things to consider as you research schools and make the rounds visiting the classrooms.

What to Look for in a Preschool

When it comes to finding a quality preschool, there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Qualified and Caring Teachers: Look for teachers who are trained in early childhood education, and who genuinely care about the well-being and development of your child. Ask the teachers about their qualifications and experience, and observe how they interact with the children to get a sense of their teaching style.

Age-appropriate Curriculum: A quality preschool should have a curriculum that is tailored to meet the developmental needs of young children. Look for a blend of structured activities, play-based learning, and lots of opportunities for social interaction. A well-rounded curriculum will include activities that help grow a child’s cognitive, physical and social-emotional development.

Safe and Stimulating Environment: Pay attention to the physical environment of the preschool. Bright, clean, welcoming and child-proofed facilities are what you’re looking for, equipped with child-sized furniture and developmentally appropriate materials. Outdoor play spaces should be secure and offer opportunities for exploration and gross motor skill development.

Good Communication: Look for open lines of communication, regular updates on your child’s progress, and opportunities for parent-teacher conferences. A school that values your input and actively involves parents in their child’s learning journey creates a sense of community and support.

Look for Red Flags

As you tour the classroom, if you notice that the students are not engaged, the learning space is cluttered or sterile, or there is a high turn-over rate with staff, that should set off some warning bells. Ideally, you want to see uncluttered walls, organized materials, and a calm, quiet setting that allows children to focus and be engaged. Also look out for a dirty facility, teachers on devices, teachers not interacting with the children or children left unattended.

On the flip side, if a school has teachers who have been there for years, that is a great sign. Other signs of a good preschool include a classroom space where children have access to a variety of activities for different learning styles, such as building blocks, an art center, dramatic play, fine-motor activities, interactive games and a library. Ideally, you want to see a space where children have the opportunity to work independently, in small groups and large groups, as well as one-on-one time with the teacher.

Why Touring is Important

Although doing online research and getting word-of-mouth referrals are great ways to learn about a preschool, nothing compares to taking the time to tour a preschool. Touring a preschool during the school day gives you a glimpse into the life of the school and the students. You can actually see students interacting with their teachers, see the learning environment being used, and learn about the daily routines of the students. It is also a perfect time to ask questions specific to the needs of your family.

Finding the right preschool for your child is a personal decision. Take the time to visit multiple preschools, talk to other parents, and trust your instincts. By keeping these factors in mind, you can find a quality preschool that will provide a strong foundation for your child’s future education and growth.

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