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How to Pick a Preschool and the Importance of School Tours

Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr

Last week, we posted an article entitled How to Pick a Preschool in an Hour or Less. While I agree with this in some ways, I believe that it’s a bit misleading. In order to pick a preschool, you have to have do research, participate in school tours, and visit the classroom. All of this will certainly take you more than an hour! However, after all the tours, I believe it’s true, it will likely take you minutes to pick a school.

David Kirp states, “For parents, the bottom line is simple: Watch closely what’s happening in the classroom, pick a preschool that you wish you had gone to, and your child will do just fine.”

So…how to pick a preschool? The simple answer is, by visiting them. Visits are the best way to gain an understanding of the personality, attitude, and environment of the school, as well as the quickest way to get all your questions answered.  This is a great time of year to go visit schools because school is in session and settled into a rhythm. With school choice nearly complete, there are fewer visitors. Below are a list of questions to ask yourself and the school, to ensure that you get the most out of your visit.

Questions to ask yourself when picking a preschool?

  1. What do I value in my child’s early education?
  2. What are the priorities I have for learning? Play, academic learning, social interaction, inclusion, community, hours, cost?
  3. What is the commute? How will it effect the logistics of my daily life and schedule?
  4. What does my child prioritize?
  5. What type of structure to you envision them thriving in?

Questions to ask during a school tour?

  1. What are the mission and values of the school?
  2. What is the community like? Do they play outside of school? Are there events that bring the families together?
  3. How would you respond if my child hit another child?
  4. How do you ensure that ALL children are included?
  5. How does the day start and end?
  6. Can I meet the teachers?
  7. Can I observe a class? Can my child come in and participate for an hour?
  8. Do you follow a curriculum? If so, which one?

Think about it…

Stop and think about how your values, and who your child is, align with the mission, value, and personality of a school. Consider your child’s opinion.

Decide

Make the best decision with the information you have.


Not enough time? 

Consider taking advantage of our services. e.Merging offers Kindergarten readiness packages as well as middle school and high school packages. We know that picking a program for your child can be overwhelming! There are a plethora of options in the Denver area and it is difficult to decipher one from the other. e.Merging can help ensure your child is prepared for school and guide you to a program that aligns with your family’s educational values and priorities.  e.Merging utilizes data-driven assessments coupled with our vast knowledge about all the local schools, to help you make a decision.

Sample Package: Kindergarten Readiness Package

Included:

  • One-hour initial meeting with the parents to examine the Denver educational landscape
  • Administer the Bracken Assessment
  • One-hour classroom observation
  • Teacher Interview
  • One and a half hour meeting with parents to analyze the gathered data and make school choice.

More Resources: 

  • PBS PARENT’s Choosing a Preschool or Childcare Center. 
  • Parent Map wrote an article on steps to follow when picking a preschool. In it, they list signs a Preschool is well-run and not well-run. I found this list to be a very helpful guide for understanding the quality of a school.

 

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