Choosing a preschool program for your child can feel overwhelming at first. Preschool often sets the tone for children's success in learning throughout their early educational years. If you're like most parents, you want to make sure that you are making the right decision. It therefore should help to remember some of the most important factors in selecting a preschool, such as the program's curriculum and teaching style.
The first thing to consider is whether or not your child is actually ready for preschool. If you've never left him under the care of relatives or babysitters, he could be prone to separation anxiety. Another question to ask yourself is whether your child can be understood by other adults when he speaks. Also, is he used to being around and interacting with other children? At home, children -- especially an only child -- may grow accustomed to only having close family around. Sharing or being part of a group might therefore be difficult for them. Sometimes too, within the family, children use special words or even have whole conversations that only their parents can understand.
Parents should also think about how they can prepare their children for preschool. Taking your child on play dates with other children, attending birthday parties together and enrolling them in special classes (such as dance, sports or art classes) can help get her ready. Such activities will give her an opportunity to learn about sharing, team work and how to wait for her turn. Speak clearly with your child at home and encourage her to communicate with specific words instead of using hand gestures, sounds or crying in order to tell adults what she needs.
Curriculum and Teaching Style
While parents might assume that every preschool program is similar, this is not necessarily true. Different preschools take on different approaches to curriculum and teaching style. Are you looking for a formal, structured learning environment or something more relaxed and child-centered? It's a good idea to visit several different preschools and ask questions about their teaching methods, curriculum goals and and discipline plans. Consider your child's personality and needs when finally selecting a preschool program.
Expectations for Learning
While it is certainly okay to have expectations concerning your child's progress in preschool, it's important avoid comparing her to other children. Every child is unique and learns at her own pace. Try not to listen or take it too seriously when other parents brag about how their child is winning awards or is a whiz at a particular activity or skill. As long as your child is learning at a rate appropriate for her age, everything is fine.
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