Your kids are the most precious people in the world to you! At first, it’s hard to imagine giving them to a stranger to care for, isn’t it?
My first experience with preschool was traumatic! I don’t mean when I went to preschool, I mean when my first son did. I was a mess!
There he was, standing at the window waving goodbye while crying his eyes out. I plastered a smile on my face, waved back, got in my car and drove away. Then I let it all out and cried my eyes out, too!
He had a hard time there, so we moved him to another preschool that we were all very happy with. It was some work finding the right one, but it was worth it!
Where our children go to preschool is REALLY important! They are a critical time in their early development. Both positive and negative emotional experiences have lasting impact.
So, it pays to do our due diligence before we decide on preschool. There a lot of great ones out there but also some that aren’t so great.
Once you have a potential school picked out, I strongly suggest doing a classroom observation. A couple of hours or more would be great.
It’s true that a teacher might be on guard if you’re there, however, you can still get a sense of whether the children are happy and if the teacher has created a positive atmosphere.
“Must Have’s” for Any Preschool
Must Have’s – Preschool Teachers
Are they kind?
Are they patient?
Do they smile?
Do they use positive discipline and redirection instead of yelling, “Don’t!” or “Stop it!”?
Do they use positive verbal guidance instead of just demanding things from the children?
Do they get down on the child’s level when addressing them?
Do they listen to the child’s concerns and help them come up with solutions?
Do they use positive reinforcement of good behavior?
Will they allow observation?
Will they let you stay with your child for a while at first?
Must Have’s – Safety
Outlets covered or out of reach, all cleaning products in locked storage cabinets, no broken tiles or torn carpets that might cause tripping, temperature well controlled, exterior doors that children can’t unlock, bookcases and other climbable furniture bolted to walls or floor, clean sinks, surfaces and toys.
Must Have’s – the Classroom
Most preschool classrooms are organized into centers and a good preschool will have a combination of some or all of these, with variations, of course. I’ve offered examples of some of the equipment and toys that any preschool should have. They are also fantastic for your your home! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Table, easel, paints, paper, staplers, scissors, markers, crayons, glue, seasonal items for holidays, etc.
Plants, rocks, shells, magnifying glass, balance scales, aquarium, animal/insect cage, small appliances to take apart and explore.
Picture books, phonics, first readers, classics, nursery rhymes, books with themes such as colors, shapes, and numbers. (Visit my Usborne Books & More for great children’s books for your home or your child’s preschool!)
Dramatic Play Center
Other centers ideas: workbench, sand/water play, writing, computer.
Must Have’s – Outdoors
There should be at least 75 square feet of play area for each child surrounded by a sturdy fence. If there is a gate, it’s locked, and children are unable to get out. All equipment in working order with no hazardous areas.
Look for a grassy area and a paved area, climbing equipment of the appropriate size, balls, hoops, ropes, sand/water play, garden, digging toys, ground level balance path/beam, play house, wheeled toys, messy art materials.
Follow Your Instincts
If you find a preschool that fits the criteria, great job! It might be worth a try. However, always follow your mom instincts. If you don’t feel good about it, even if it fits the basic criteria, move on! There may be something out of whack that you can’t see.
When your child starts the new preschool, stay with them for a while, helping them adjust. If they cry when you leave, it’s normal.
However, if they continue crying long after you’ve gone or every time you leave them there for weeks, I’d consider taking them out. They might not be ready, or you just may need to try a different school like we did.
Remember, there is no rush!! Trust the instincts God gave you as a mom. Enjoy watching your child succeed in his new adventure!
You may want to read my post: 10 Things to Say to Preschoolers to Give Them Courage and Confidence. I tell you how to prepare your child for new adventures.
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