Finding the right preschool for your kid can be a difficult task, especially in the Bay Area.
It’s essential early on to identify your priorities and to consider a mix of different factors in order to make sure that, as parents, you ask yourself those all important questions: How often and for how long will my kid go to preschool? Do I like the way a particular preschool is run? Is it important for the preschool to be near my home and/or workplace?
The pressure to choose the best preschool for your kid may be daunting, but to help you prepare for this decision, we’ve compiled three simple steps to break down the selection process.
1. Make a Shortlist
Start by drawing a shortlist of reputable preschools in your area. You can do this by using your own local knowledge, asking other parents for recommendations (personal references are often particularly helpful) and by using online search engines. The Child Care Aware website is a great resource.
By browsing through preschool websites and social media accounts, as well as reading reviews, you can start to narrow down the preschools which best match your own values based on their teaching philosophies, curriculum and staff to child ratios.
Bonus tip: Start your searching EARLY
Most preschool tours start in the fall of the year prior to enrollment. This means that you can call around and pay a visit in advance to as many preschools as possible in order to find the best option for you and your kid. It may also be useful to attend preschool fairs. Take family and friends along too – their experiences can offer fascinating insights.
2. Arrange a visit:
After narrowing down your shortlist based on your research, set up a time to visit a selection of your favorite preschools. You can learn a lot about the ethos of a preschool by the way the teachers interact with you and your kid on your introductory visit. It’s important that you and your kid feel welcomed, safe, and happy.
Be prepared to ask the members of staff any questions you may have about the day to day running of the preschool and the curriculum to make sure they can cater for your kid’s needs. The best classrooms should feel interesting, buzzing with enthusiasm and sensitive to your family’s cultural and ethnic background.
Click here to book a tour of our San Mateo, Oakland or Pacifica preschools.
3. Book your preschool place:
Preschool places can be competitive so be sure to arrange details like hours, a start date and who will be collecting and dropping off your child as soon as you’ve decided on the right preschool.
If your dream preschool has no openings, don’t despair - simply put your kid’s name on the waiting list. It may also help to write a letter explaining why you’re so enthusiastic about taking up a place at the preschool. Don’t be afraid to apply to more than one preschool too, as this way, it’s likely you’ll have other options to consider.
Don’t forget to allow your kid plenty of time to adjust to their new preschool, especially if this is their first time in childcare.
What are your tips for finding the best preschool for you and your kid? Let us know in the comments below.