5 Things Parents Should Consider When Choosing a Preschool

This post is from our friends at Noodle.

Choosing the right preschool for your child shouldn’t feel like racing at the Indy 500. Still, the experience of finding the right fit — both for your little one and for you — elicits a special mix of anxiety and excitement. Whether or not you’re gearing up for the first year of preschool, now is the perfect time to stock up on a set of rainbow gel pens and start searching for a preschool that best suits your child’s needs.

painting with preschooler

Check out these five things parents should consider when choosing a preschool:

1. Start your preschool search early.

Start searching for preschools a year in advance of the school start date. During your research, start a list of the top schools you’d like your child to attend, and apply to all of them. This way if you don’t get into your first choice, you’ll have a few as backups. Many schools have waiting lists, specifically in the New York area, so get your applications, attend open houses, and follow all the steps necessary to secure a spot at one of the schools at the top of your list.

To find preschools nearby, use a tool like the Noodle Preschool Search.  Simply enter your ZIP code, city, or state and filter by other criteria to generate and tailor a list of schools that fit your needs.

2. Schedule a tour.

After you’ve applied to schools, start scheduling tours at the ones you’ve chosen. Schools often have open houses in the fall, and many schools allow you to schedule an independent visit. Some schools, like The Goddard School in New York, will even allow you to schedule a tour online. Try to visit at least two to three schools to get a good sense of how they compare to one another. Here are a few things to consider during your preschool tour:
● Are teachers present to help with morning drop-off?
● How do the teachers tell the children “no”?
● How does circle time work?
● Can you see your child being happy in this environment?

3. Understand how long and how often you’d like your child to attend preschool.

Children usually attend preschool between the ages of 2 and 5. Many preschools run half-day programs around 4 hours every weekday for a typical 9-month school year. Some preschools offer both full-day programs and half-day programs. Montessori schools often have longer days.

It’s important to keep in mind that full-day preschool programs provide a more relaxed school day, and children can receive more independent learning. These also tend to be more expensive. Half-day programs allow children to engage with their peers and teachers in a less-structured environment.

preschool boy

4. Policies on potty training.

Many preschools require that children be potty trained. The stress of having to potty train your child for preschool is real for parents. As the deadline circles and National Potty Training month passes, parents can be frantic when it’s time to send their kids off to preschool. It’s important to find out whether your preschool of choice is pull-ups friendly or strict about its potty training policies.

5. Know the recommended child to adult ratio.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that infant groups should be no larger than 12 children with an adult-to-child ratio of 1:4. Preschool classroom groups should not be larger than 20, and the adult-to-child ratio should not exceed 1:10. These regulations can vary between states. To learn more about the preschool regulations in your state, check out this guide.

As a parent, it’s difficult to choose what is the right fit for your child — cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Work schedules, finances, and educational environment are all factors that play important roles in the decision-making process. Ultimately, go with your gut feeling and with whatever is best for your family.

Anna Bates is a Marketing Manager at a leading education website that helps parents and students make better decisions about learning. Prior to joining the NY tech crowd, Anna was a digital marketing strategist working with a wealth of global brands like IHG, Bloomin Brands, and Mailboat Records, to name a few. In her free time, Anna moonlights as a volunteer soccer coach and mom to Norman & Mabel, her basset hounds.