When it comes to choosing a preschool, the options can feel a little overwhelming. Schools can vary widely not only in pricing, but also in curriculum, teaching philosophies and their approach to creativity and purpose-filled learning.
Factors like schedule, budget and the school’s proximity to your home or office will certainly play a role in your decision. But beyond those important considerations, parents will want to ensure the preschool they select aligns with their values and the kind of education that best suits their child’s learning style.
Here are three important questions to ask any preschool you might be evaluating:
1. What educational curriculum/style does the school use?
Most people see preschool as a way for children to learn their ABCs, numbers and develop social skills. Those are important building blocks, but a preschool with a dedicated curriculum can cater to your child’s learning style and expose them to many more educational opportunities.
For example, the new Preschool of Arts at the Center for Jewish Life in Mount Pleasant subscribes to the Reggio Emilia style of learning that encourages curiosity and a child-led approach.
“We help children discover the interrelationships of things and ideas by focusing on the relationship of the fine arts to nature, science, math, music and communal interaction,” says Rachel Lessard, executive director of Preschool of the Arts. “We encourage children to ponder, investigate and create as a way to make meaning of the world around them.”
2. Is there a focus on the arts?
All children can benefit from arts-focused education. From music and painting to drama and drawing, arts education is critical to developing communication and fine motor skills as well as fostering cultural awareness and focus.
Preschool of the Arts, which is open to families of all backgrounds, has developed arts-centered classrooms to encourage artistic expression and creativity. Blended effectively into the school’s daily routine, children are exposed to an array of art media, including acrylic, watercolor, and finger painting, crayons, chalks, markers and pastels. Children also work with clay and other sensory media, as well as natural materials brought in from the outside world.
3. How does the school encourage healthy living?
Preschools that provide plenty of outdoor playtime and introduce children to new fruits and vegetables are setting children up for a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
The Preschool of Arts incorporates getting children out in nature and exploring the outdoors. The school also has an organic garden so children can observe how produce is grown for our nourishment.
It’s easy to evaluate a preschool program on price, size and even the cleanliness of the facility. While those are all important, digging deeper into the educational philosophy and curriculum can help parents make a more informed choice for their little ones. Those schools that encourage a true sense of exploration and learning can set children up for long-term educational success – even at age 2.
“My experience has taught me that all children have an intrinsic desire to explore. Children are capable and competent learners,” Lessard says. “They thrive when given the tools and support to explore and discover as they learn.”