Navigating the first year as a parent is no easy feat. And then all of a sudden, you're faced with thinking about preschools, the beginnings of your child's educational journey, which can feel totally daunting!
Luckily there are a variety of great resources to assist you in your search. Here are our tips for an informed, but not crazy-making, search.
START WITH A LITTLE BACKGROUND RESEARCH.
First, it's worth doing a little (emphasis on little) general research to narrow down your choices.
- Location: Between home and work is often best
- Schedule: Do you need part time, full time, how many hours?
- Fees: What is the family budget for child care?
- Philosophy: What type of program will be the best fit for your child, given who they are?
As you start to consider which school philosophies seem like the best fit for your child's personality, check out this article for a quick glance at the various approaches --there's Montessori, Reggio Emilio, Waldorf, PlayBased, Academic, and more.
ATTEND PRESCHOOL PREVIEW NIGHT
(this year, it's hosted by GGMG at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park on Thursday, September 28, 5:30-7:30pm). This event can feel a bit chaotic, as it's typically super busy and there is a wealth of information under one roof. We recommend checking out the list of schools who will be at the event ahead of time, and then narrowing down your MUST VISIT school list to 4 or 6 schools.
As you visit your top schools, you can get the answers you need to more specific questions about philosophies, costs, schedules, pre-admission visits and more. You'll also have an opportunity to meet and talk with parents, preschool directors and other representatives to get a feel for the school and whether it meshes with what you're looking for.
START SCHEDULING TOURS & ATTENDING OPEN HOUSES.
Once you've narrowed down your top choices, schedule open houses or tours or orientations, depending on the school's process. Asking questions to assess whether or not each school is a right fit for your little one is important. Here are some things to think about as you meet administration and parents from each school.
WHAT TO DO IN THE MEANTIME?
While you are busy identifying and scoping out the right schools, help your child begin to develop familiarity with a drop-off environment, socializing with peers and, discovering interests.
The Precess Program at Recess is a great resource for establishing the foundational skills needed for a successful transition to Preschool. Precess, taught by Nicki McGrath, has been an amazing precursor (and even alternative) to preschool for many children over the years. Learn More