4 Key Factors When Considering Preschool Enrollment

Posted on: 3 April 2015

It's that time of the year! Preschool enrollment is on the horizon, and you're wondering if your child is really ready for her first educational experience. Unlike daycare or child care, preschool is a more structured and school-like setting. Instead of just focusing on care while mom and dad are away, preschool also aims to educate and help young children prepare for a lifetime of academic adventures. Understanding what to look for in a program can guide your decision-making process and help you to make an appropriate enrollment choice for your child.

So what should you look for in a preschool program?

1. Age. The key factor in deciding whether to enroll your child in a preschool program or not is often age. Preschool traditionally refers to children ages 3 through 5. If your tot is still 2 years old, the program may not accept him. Some schools also have cut-off dates, similar to kindergartens. For example, the program may require all incoming preschoolers to turn 3 by September 1. If your child's birthday is September 25, you need to wait until the following year.

2. Schedule. Daycares often operate on a full work-day schedule Monday through Friday. This means that you could drop your child off at 7:00 a.m. and pick her up at 6:00 p.m. In contrast, preschools often hold half-day or partial week classes. If you work full-time, a 'preschool' program may not fit your family's needs.

3. Teaching strategies. Talk to the preschool's director, and ask about what the educational philosophy is. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), high quality preschools use research-based teaching strategies. These employ tested techniques that are known in the early childhood education community to effectively help preschoolers (ages 3- through 5-years) to learn and develop. Some preschools may subscribe to a set philosophy as well. This could include Montessori, Waldorf or another similar educational outlook.

4. Discipline. There are times when your child may not want to listen to his teacher, may have trouble sharing or may act out. Even the best behaved preschooler still has trouble controlling and expressing emotions appropriately 100 percent of time. With that in mind, the PBS Parents website suggests reviewing the preschool's discipline policies before making the decision to enroll. Review the policies and match them up to your family's beliefs and the way that you use discipline at home. For example, if you believe in talking out issues with your child, but the school requires time-outs, your child may find the discipline methods a challenge to conform to.

Preschool enrollment is the first step on an educational journey. Deciding if it's time to enroll, and if the program is right for your child, is a process. From your little learner's age to understanding what happens if she misbehaves, reviewing essential elements of each program helps you to make an informed choice that you can feel comfortable with. For more information, contact a school such as Montessori School Of Salt Lake Inc.