Is Preschool Necessary?
Children aren’t required to attend preschool in the United States. So, is preschool necessary? It’s been long debated whether or not it is prior to Kindergarten. On one hand, you can explore options for more individualized care (nannies, etc.). On the other hand, preschool presents an opportunity for child development through increased social and academic experiences. As always, you need to consider what’s best for your child’s needs.
Here at Kids’ Care Club, we believe preschools are the most important years for physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional development. Preschools present countless chances for socialization, building academic skills, problem-solving, and preparation for the Kindergarten routine. Studies show, however, that the impact on development and Kindergarten readiness is directly correlated with the quality of the preschool program. In your search for quality preschool programs, we here at Kids’ Care Club find these the top 8 factors to consider when placing your child in preschool.
8 Factors to Think About When Selecting a Quality Preschool for Your Child
1. Teacher Qualifications and Turnover
Ensure that the teachers in your child’s preschool are sufficiently qualified, both in their background and educated. Are they positive and nurturing towards the children? Are they willing to communicate with the family and collaborate to support your child’s development?
Employee turnover refers to the number of workers that leave the company over a specific time period. We encourage parents to ask about the staff turnover rate and question the school if it is high. A high teacher turnover rate is a common indicator that staff is unhappy in some regard – whether it be that staff are underpaid, the center is managed poorly, the center is understaffed, or there aren’t enough teaching materials available for the staff to execute their job successfully.
2. Teacher to Child Ratio
Teacher-to-child ratios refer to the number of students per teacher. A proper teacher-to-child ratio ensures adequate supervision of children and is the most common metric used when evaluating classrooms from preschool to high school. Not only is a lower teacher-to-child ratio a preference for families, but it’s also an important factor that child care licensing and accreditation agencies look at to ensure that there is proper supervision for the safety of all children. Low ratios promote high-quality interactions between educators and children that boost your child’s learning experience and well-being.
NAEYC accreditation determines our staff-to-child ratio and class sizes here at KCC, which is lower than typical preschool licensing requirements.
3. Assessing Children’s Development and Learning
Keeping regular assessments of the children in a preschool is essential in understanding what a child’s strengths and weaknesses are. More importantly, these assessments must be clearly and effectively communicated with parents to further their child’s education together. With a clear understanding, teachers can design activities with an informed approach to help children continue learning. Common ways that we see proper assessment of children’s development and learning in a preschool setting are regular notes on children, collection of drawings and writing, taking photos, and formal assessments.
Here at Kids’ Care Club, we assess child development and learning in many ways. Our teachers share daily reports with photos of your child, links to songs and books used in class, important reminders, and updates on daily activities through the Learning Genie app. Art completed in the classroom (drawings, writing, etc.) will be sent to families through an End of Year portfolio that showcases all of their hard work. Lastly, formal assessments are conducted through Desired Results Developmental Profiles (DRDPs). The Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) is an assessment tool designed for our teachers to formally observe, document, and reflect on the learning, development, and progress of your child, which is discussed with you through a parent-teacher conference.
4. Stimulating Environment
A stimulating preschool environment is one where students are able to learn through developmentally appropriate, hands-on activities with a supportive teacher invested in your child’s development. A classroom environment with an array of activities is important to support development in all spheres – socially, emotionally, physically, linguistically, and cognitively.
Here at Kids’ Care Club, it’s important that each classroom is equipped with abundant activities that allow children to grow through child and teacher-guided exploration. You’ll see sensory tables, reading corners, dramatic play kitchens, toys, and so much more in each and every classroom.
5. Developing Relationships with Families
Families are the first and most important people in your child’s life. A quality preschool wants to build a trusting, collaborative relationship with the families of the children in their class to promote learning both in the classroom and beyond. When a child enters an early childhood program, a relationship between teachers and parents helps create a comfortable environment that is successful in supporting your child’s development. This looks like listening to family goals and concerns, encouraging participation, and showing respect for your family’s culture and language. Research demonstrates that a reciprocal relationship with your child’s classroom teacher helps your child thrive.
We encourage all of our parents to get involved, share information about their children to help them understand their needs, and share their talents and culture. Volunteer! Share your profession! We love having our families involved.
6. Curriculum & Structure
A quality preschool curriculum is designed around developmentally appropriate activities and experiences that help children learn and grow. These activities are designed around learning goals for children that are challenging for children, but achievable with the help of a qualified early childhood educator. Activities are balanced between group activities that encourage cooperative learning and those that are chosen by children. These activities are chosen around children’s interests, skills, and knowledge.
Different preschools employ different curriculums and teaching approaches. There’s Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, Waldorf, and so many more. Some are play-based, while others are academic-based. Kids’ Care Club chooses a balance of both play and academics, where the curriculum is designed around the developmental needs of each child to promote social skills and school readiness through teacher and child-guided exploration.
7. NAEYC Accreditation
NAEYC accreditation can help you in your search to find a quality program that ensures the best possible early childhood experience for your child. NAEYC has ten program standards of excellence to earn accreditation. All programs must:
- Promote positive relationships for all children and adults to encourage each child’s sense of individual worth.
- Implement a curriculum that fosters all areas of child development: cognitive, emotional, language, physical, and social.
- Use developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and effective teaching approaches.
- Provide ongoing assessments of each child’s learning and development and communicate the child’s progress to the family.
- Promote the nutrition and health of children and protect children and staff from illness and injury.
- Employ and support a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, knowledge, and professional commitment necessary to promote children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse interests and needs.
- Establish and maintain collaborative relationships with each child’s family.
- Establish relationships with and use the resources of the community to support the achievement of program goals.
- Provide a safe and healthy physical environment.
- Implement strong personnel, fiscal, and program management policies so that all children, families, and staff have high-quality experiences.
Kids’ Care Club has been NAEYC accredited for ______ years and is committed to creating experiences shaped by the ten standards of excellence every day to create the highest quality educational experiences for your child.
8. Gut Feeling and Warning Signs
One of the most important things in choosing a preschool program is your gut feeling. Some elements of a classroom may not contribute to the development of your child, and we encourage you to consider them.
- The classroom is not organized and there aren’t any activities. Children are not directly involved in activities, or all activities are teacher dictated and children can’t have self-directed learning experiences.
- Given worksheets and toys that only allow children to learn in a specific way. Children are diverse and need the freedom to make choices, and solve problems with their own unique approaches.
- Teachers aren’t involved in children’s activities. They may just tell children what to do, rather than provide a collaborative, nurturing relationship that helps their learning.
- Teachers don’t share information about progress and don’t accommodate concerns disclosed by families.
- No clear limits for children’s behavior. Children aren’t given positive reinforcement or guidance to help them learn appropriate behavior.
If you have any questions about certain elements of a program, it’s important that you ask the center director directly.
We believe that preschool is necessary. That’s why we’re NAEYC-accredited and stand by their mission to promote high-quality early learning for all young children to thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential. We encourage you to use our Identifying a High-Quality Preschool – A Parent Checklist in your hunt for a high-quality program.