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Considering Your Child’s Preschool? Consider You.

Recent studies have shown that children with a quality preschool education do better in school, get higher paying jobs, and are less likely to do drugs or commit crimes than children who don’t attend Pre-K. (Credit: MSNBC, Today.com)

But no pressure, right?

Picking a preschool is no sissy stuff. No longer just a glorified daycare, your child’s preschool education is going to set him on the path for the rest of his school-going years. Naturally, you want to do this right and you want to select the school where your child is most likely, if not guaranteed, to thrive.

But here’s a surprise: when you are looking for a preschool for your child, you need to consider you. Certainly it is important that the school be a good fit for your child. But ultimately, for children at this age, it is your philosophies, ideals and preferences that will (and should) guide the decision. Knowing and understanding that unmuddies the decision significantly. If you simply start touring schools without your own personal criteria well established, you’ll easily be drawn in by the sweet teachers, the appearance of the school, and other external factors. These are important criteria and considerations, but they’re secondary. Knowing yourself, and the intentions you have for your child, are of first importance. The following criteria should help guide your decision:

Logistics. Think about location and tuition. How much you are able to spend? How far you are willing to drive? These two factors limit the pool significantly. Don’t feel guilty about this. It is neither cost, nor time efficient to drive your child across town for preschool and then head back in the opposite direction to go to work. It isn’t wise to go into debt over your child’s preschool education either (save that for college). The early development years are vital, but remember that much of the development will happen in the home. You want to choose a school where will your child will be safe, well-cared for, and well-taught, but if you can’t afford the preschool with the national reputation, don’t sweat it.

Philosophy And Belief System. Think about your religious beliefs, outlook on social issues and policies on discipline before you even begin to consider schools. Think it isn’t that big of a deal at such a young age? Think again. Your child is never going to be more of a sponge than he is right now. These are tender, formative years. The decision is an important one.

This is where you are going to do a little soul searching and mind searching. Think about your religious beliefs. Do you want your child in a setting that corresponds to your belief and practice and where your child will receive religious education as a part of her school day? Are you comfortable with your child receiving religious education in another faith or denomination?

What is the school’s policy on discipline? Does it match your own beliefs? What is your perspective on educational philosophies and models such as Waldorf or Montessori? The more in-touch you are with your personal beliefs and philosophical leanings, the easier it will be for you to choose the school that will hopefully nurture your child in the same.

What’s Your Vibe? This is where you start to look at the schools, take the tour, and sit in on classes. How do you feel about what you see? Don’t be afraid to let your intuition factor heavily into the decision. Though the school or care arrangement may look great on paper, if you get a sneaking suspicion that something just isn’t right, trust that instinct–even if it’s something you can’t exactly ‘put your finger on’.

When you choose a school that matches your family’s beliefs and needs and that you feel good about, it is there where your child is most likely to thrive. To best meet the educational and developmental needs of your child, take the time to consider you.

Here’s a great resource to assist you as you consider your child’s preschool. SavvySource.com features national preschool rankings as well as a wealth of helpful information for the pre-preschool parent.

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