Q: [Preschoolers] I know preschool is important for kindergarten readiness, but how do I know which preschool is right for my child?
A: A child’s education is an important decision you can make to ensure a bright and successful future. According to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), fewer than half of California students are on track to succeed in college or career. This means planning for your child’s education at an early age is key. And where does it all start? Preschool.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), children who attend high-quality preschool programs enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills than those who do not.
Choosing a preschool that is a good fit for your child is worth the investment of time and research. In addition to making sure it works for you in terms of location, cost, and hours, focusing on these three areas can help you choose a school where your child will thrive:
- Environment: Visit the preschool with your child to make sure the classroom and outdoor play areas are kept clean and safe. You’ll want to make sure that their license is up to date and you and your child feel comfortable.
- Teachers: Confirm each preschool teacher is certified, trained and there is a low turnover rate among staff. Do they provide ongoing education to teachers to ensure they are on the cutting edge of new curriculum and techniques? Ensuring there is a proper adult/child ratio according to state standards is also a fundamental rule for any licensed preschool.
- Philosophy: Many preschools today have a specific “approach” or focus for their curriculum. Whether the program is play-based, STEM-focused or takes another approach—choose what you feel will prepare your child for kindergarten, academically, socially and emotionally. Ask about the amount of reading, vocabulary and math the preschool incorporates into their daily curriculum.
Randy Barth is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Think Together, a statewide nonprofit organization that partners with schools to provide early learning and afterschool programs, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators.