Yesterday we took a big step in our little family and signed my daughter up for preschool. This is something we have been debating on doing for about the last year and wanted to make sure that she would be socially and mentally ready before taking this big step.
When I told my family that we were looking into preschools they looked at me like I was insane. “You are so protective of her, you barely let strangers babysit and you are letting her go off to school?” was the most common reaction. The second was, “Well, I hope you did your homework because you hear all of those horror stories on the news and I just cannot imagine…(insert various horror story here)” You would think that my family is well aware that I am a planner and very cautious about anyone who is around my daughter. I took some very big steps to ensure we were choosing a preschool perfect for our family, somewhere we would be comfortable leaving her, well, as comfortable as walking on broken glass can be.
I researched the each of the local “schools” in the area. Most of these centers were daycares. I have no bias against daycares, they can be amazing places where children get a very good education and grow into amazing little humans. My nephews have been in daycare the majority of their lives and they are two of the smartest, well mannered and empathic boys I know. Their parents often say that a lot of the skills they show are learned from daycare.
The difference between a daycare and a preschool can be boiled down to one big difference, age groups. Daycares often care for younger children, as young as infants, where as preschools have an age cut off, and often 2 to 2 1/2. They also tend to have a more academically focus as opposed to daycares, which tend to be more caregiver focused. That is not always the case but tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
We checked out about 5 schools in total ranging from church preschool/daycares to Montessori focused schools. A couple would not show me around, which I understand, their responsible for the care of those children and I did not call or anything. I wanted to show up unannounced because that would be something I would do if my daughter went there. I want to make sure they are always performing at a high level and not just at pick up and drop off. I was able to see some of the classroom areas if they were empty, and usually the playground areas from behind the fence. They seemed nice.
I always asked what the teacher’s qualifications were. I want to make sure that we are not sending buggy somewhere just to do it her but rather that she gets something out of it. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out a lot of time they did not have early childhood education degrees but rather only passed the state requirements and some had teachers with no qualifications but were under constant supervision, which bothered me a bit.
In the end we decided to go with one that is right up the street. It is a true preschool, she has to be 2 before she can attend, and they have a curriculum, which is very impressive. The school is clean as heck and very accommodating. I walked in for the first time at 10am on a Wednesday, they had no clue I was coming, and the front office staff was wonderful. They gave me tons of information and then gave my daughter and I a tour of the facilities. There was no hesitation, no please wait here while we clean up or anything like that. I was able to ask as many questions as I needed and spoke to the owner about why they started the facility and a teacher, who was on lunch, about what they’re teaching methods were based on.
They have a top-notch security system, which lets be honest, in today’s world is a necessity. The classrooms are beautiful and wonderfully stocked. I could not find anything my daughter might need that they did not have. The kids, who I was able to watch through windows, looked happy, engaged and challenged.
I was encouraged to bring my husband back before making a final choice and they gave me a ton of reference information to take home to study. I just got a good feeling from the place. It helps that a bunch of the kids from our neighborhood already attend and so we had heard good things from the beginning.
I know I might not be 100% ready for Buggy to take this big step into kid-hood but she is ready. I will follow up next week with how I made the right choice to send her as opposed the selfish one I wanted to make of keeping her home for another year. In the end it is up to you about what you are looking for in a school. Make sure you are comfortable and as we are always very big on here follow that mommy instinct.
How did you pick where your child eventually ended up going to school or daycare? What were some of your biggest concerns and must haves?
The Perfectionist Mom
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