By Virginia Calistro
Selecting the right preschool for your
child is an important decision and a big step for both
you as a parent and for your child. Send your child to
preschool for the "right" reason; the program
best-suited for your child will provide him with both
a social and integrating experience.
What is most important to you as a parent
in placing your child in a preschool program? Are you
most concerned with cost, location, interaction between
the teachers and children and teachers and family, or
health and safety? Is your child developmentally "ready"
for preschool? Is he able to walk, communicate his wants
and needs, go to the bathroom independently (toilet training
is required by some preschools)? What is his maturity
level? Does he still rely on a pacifier, bottle or blanket?
Collect brochures containing information
about the policies, prices and programs offered by schools
within a 10 minute radius of your home. There is much
to be said for the convenience of a school which is in
close proximity to your home. Contact other parents, your
pediatrician, church/synagogue, or town recreation department
for referrals to licensed and accredited child care centers.
It is a good idea to visit the school yourself
initially and speak with the director and staff about
the program and its objectives. If the experience is positive,
then revisit the school with your child. This information
must be posted where you can see it, usually at the entrance
of the school. Look for other posted information including:
the school's philosophy, procedures to lodge complaints,
a fire certificate indicating maximum occupancy, whether
the school has been tested for radon gas and whether the
school's instructors are certified for pediatric safety.
Observe the school during regular program
hours: watch how the teachers interact with the children
and vice versa. Are the children happy? Note the teacher-child
ratio. State law requires 1 teacher to a maximum of 8
three to four year olds, and 1 teacher to every 10 four
to five year olds. Ask about staff turnover as frequent
turnover could indicate inconsistency and instability
of the program. Talk with the parents of children already
enrolled at the school. What is the condition of the classroom?
Are supplies plentiful? Is the room bright and cheery?
Is it clean and well-organized? Note how you feel about
the school after your visit - the right school will give
you a good feeling. Even after you have selected the school
you thought would best serve the needs of your child,
he may not adjust well. Accreditation requires that if
it is the mutual consent of the staff and the parent(s)
that the child has not adjusted to the school, i.e. is
not "ready" for preschool, or is very unhappy
and inconsolable, the parent(s) can withdraw the child
from the school with a refund.
By Virginia Calistro, Director of Cabbage
Hill Country School, Inc., Woodbridge, CT
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