Picking the right kindergarten for your growing child can be a nerve-wracking experience. If your child isn’t used to attending school regularly, helping her with the transition can be a stressful affair. Then there’s the pressure of picking a school that will help your child foster life skills at crucial development stages, which means selecting a school with too few resources can put your child at a serious disadvantage early on in her educational career.
When it comes to selecting a school, you want to evaluate all the factors involved in making your decision. Here are some guiding tips for picking the right kindergarten program to help your child thrive.
Evaluate your child’s development
The first question every parent should ask themselves when they’re thinking about kindergarten programs is, “Is my child ready to attend school?” This means deciding whether your kid is capable of putting on her own clothes, going to the bathroom by herself, and interacting with other children in an unfamiliar environment. School is an overwhelming transition for every kid, but if your child isn’t capable of completing basic tasks on her own, a teacher won’t have time to give her the one-on-one attention she might need.
Along with determining whether your child is personally up to the task of attending school, you should also determine what needs your family has. Different schools come with different price tags, amenities and educational programs.
Some schools are immersive language programs that teach your child to be multilingual, while others provide a comprehensive Religious education along with A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s. And finally, different kindergartens can operate on different schedules, depending on what kind of school you’re looking into. You want to make sure that any kindergarten you consider is accessible and practical for your family - location is crucial, and many parents are tempted to prioritize ranking over taking the commute time into account. When selecting a school, decide what features are most important and which are least important.
Look up reviews and recommendations
Once you have a clear idea of what kind of program is best for your child and your family, begin looking up reviews online of the schools available in the area. You’ll want to get first-hand accounts from other parents about what they experienced at particular schools. You can find reviews online and check free arrest records to verify staff, but you can also ask around in any local mommy groups you might now for personal feedback.
A school may technically excel on paper in terms of what it offers, but it may turn out that parents have frustrating experiences getting individual attention for their students there. A school may brag about the expanse of programs available, but parents may report that those programs pop up rarely, if ever, in actual classroom lessons.
Schedule a tour to meet teachers
Finally, the best thing you can do to get a good grasp of what environment your child will be in is to schedule a visit with the school, meet the teachers and visit the classrooms, ideally while they’re in session.
If you have the opportunity to visit the school and meet the teachers and students, you can get a better idea of what a typical school day may actually entail. Look for teachers who keep their students moving, rather than teachers who rely heavily on activities where students are seated or at their desks, to ensure that your child will get enough playtime in her early years. Meet the instructors to get an idea of their personality and how they interact with kids. Ask about after-school counselors if there are any, and try to meet elective teachers as well. Once you have a solid idea of how a school operates, you can go home, regroup and make your final decision. Selecting the right kindergarten for your child can be stressful, and in some environments it can even be competitive, adding another element of stress to the mix. But making the right decision ensures peace of mind for your family, and a strong education for your child, for years to come.