Choosing a Preschool or Kindergarten — What you Need to Know

Choosing a preschool can be stressful for any parent!  You worry about getting your child into the “right” one.  You worry that preschool will determine how competitive your application is for private school, or how much success your child will have in public school.  You agonize over whether you can choose the best environment for your child’s personality.  Is there enough active play for your rambunctious son? Is there a sensitive staff to draw out your shy daughter?  

“walking to class” by surlygirl

With a wide array of schools to choose from, your head is positively spinning!  Nursery schools, after-care facilities, schools with religious affiliations or without, and language schools are all possibilities.  But what does it all mean and which is best for your child?  Researching and comparing so many options is overwhelming.  Is there any help in sight?!?

Parent Talk to the rescue!  PT’s Preschool and Kindergarten Fair will be held on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Needham.  The cost is free to PT members and $10 to non-members.

For eleven years now, Parent Talk has hosted this informational Fair to help parents navigate the jungle of choosing a preschool.  This year, Parent Talk has added a new focus on kindergartens.   

“Welcome Park District Preschool!” by Franklin Park Library

Do you have a question about admittance schedules, fees, special curriculum (e.g., yoga, math, art, play, music, computers), or anything else for that matter?  Attend the Fair and collect your answers.  No need to spend hours online searching for every area school’s philosophy and tuition.  Directors and admittance personnel from forty-five schools will be attending to personally answer your questions, face-to-face! 

Consider the Fair a one-stop-shop for preliminary research into preschools and kindergartens in Needham, Newton, Boston, Dover, Chestnut Hill, Brookline, Dedham, Dover, Wellesley and Natick.  Parents can sign-up for school tours and learn about each school’s application process.  As an added bonus, six enrichment programs will attend, such as Wellesley Tree House, a LINX company.  Every parent who attends will receive a goody bag filled with Parent Talk’s comprehensive preschool and kindergarten guide book, coupons for enrichment programs, and other cool, free items.

What could be simpler? Just attend the Fair with your questions.  A few possible questions are below to help give you a start. 

“Fun at preschool” by madgerly

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Preschool or Kindergarten

    — What is the age requirement, and is being toilet trained a prerequisite?

    — What are the pick-up and drop-off times?

    — What is the teacher-to-student ratio?  What is the overall size of the class?

    — How does staff handle discipline issues?
   — What is the school’s philosophy and approach to learning? 

    — Does the school have an open door policy for parents dropping by?  What policy is there for visitors? 

   — What is the cost?
   — What provisions are there for special needs children?

Other considerations in deciding which schools to apply to include school location, security, reputation, and what special focus, if any, the school takes (e.g., emphasis on reading, play, music, art, etc.).  Also, remember to check your gut feeling in touring the school and interacting with its staff.  All of these contribute to determining how comfortable you will be with leaving your child in your chosen setting. 

About the Author
Darlene W. Cancell is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom, and most recently the blog coordinator for Parent Talk.

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