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Choosing the Right Preschool for Your Child

By Debra K. Whaley, M.D., Boys Town Pediatrics

It is important for parents to find a preschool that will meet the expectations they have for their child and, most importantly, will be a good fit for their young child's developmental needs as he or she prepares to transition to kindergarten.

Most preschools accept children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Most parents begin their search for a preschool about a year before their child will start attending classes. The first step is to identify your family's needs. Will your child attend preschool full-time or part-time? Does the preschool need to be close to your home or work? Do you prefer a private, public or religious preschool? You also might want your child to attend a preschool whose approach to caring for kids is similar to your parenting style. This way, the discipline and care your child receives will be consistent at home and at school.

Once you know what you are looking for, you can begin researching preschools. Boys Town Pediatrics recommends that parents look for the following:

  • A low student-to-teacher ratio
  • A focus on good health and safety
  • A variety of learning activities for children
  • Frequent one-on-one interactions between teachers and children
  • Teacher certifications and school accreditations
  • An environment where parents are welcome to show up unannounced; this is the best way for parents to see their child's day-to-day routine at the school

Once your child starts attending preschool, the best reassurances that you made the right choice are that your child enjoys attending, talks about his or her friends at preschool and is eager to share news about daily adventures and experiences.