Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you consider your options for preschool.
- Attend every open house that you are remotely interested in – This is the best way to get a feel for the school and the staff. At open houses, there may be a presentation about the philosophy of the school, a chance to meet current families and a tour to view classrooms. I think it would be very difficult to make decisions without this piece. Take advantage of any options that are provided. Some schools give private tours or offer families that are happy to speak about the programs by phone. You want as much information as possible.
- Compare the schools you are interested in by brochures and websites – The reason is that this is often the school’s best foot forward. This should provide a summary of their philosophy and highlights of their programs. Brochures have been well edited, and the language has been poured over. Brochures and websites should feel like a good fit with your family.
- Speak with current families – You can often ask for a list from the school, but you might also just ask around on the local playgrounds or ask for families on list-serves like D.C. Urban Moms (dcurbanmoms.com). When you do connect with families, ask them for the high and low points, ask about parent-teacher communication and any difficulties they experienced. You are looking for well-rounded feedback.
- Apply to a few more than you think necessary – It is still the case each year that there are children who end up not getting into preschool. Have a back-up plan or two.
- Learn about and consider various approaches – There are big differences between Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Montessori, Play-based, Hi-Scope, Cooperative and Religious based programs. Find out about these and weigh your options.