Honing your child’s pre-math and pre-literacy skills before they reach kindergarten can be incredibly beneficial to them over the course of their education. Research has shown that kids who go to preschool do a little over 20% better on math and reading tests administered in kindergarten than their classmates who did not go to a preschool. Preschool can also be an important time for them to gain important social skills and get used to interacting with other children who aren’t family. Once they reach kindergarten, they’ll have a general idea of what to expect and the first days of school may be a little less traumatic for them, as they’ve been separated from you previously. So if you’re looking for a top Pre-K as a parent, what should you look for? Why should you enroll your child in preschool?
What are Some of the Benefits that Preschools Offer?
Academic Head Start
Three separate studies showed that 80% of kids who went through preschool programs ended up outperforming their classmates who were not enrolled in high-quality early care and/or education programs. Math and reading scores generally improved across the board and even their vocabulary became richer from preschool exposure.
Preschool learning also tends to be interactive, so if you’re worried about your young child having an all work and no play kind of day, worry not. Story time, discussions and games that are education centric, playing with blocks, and other activities that encourage a child’s creativity and problem solving skills are central in a preschool curriculum. Ideally, in the best Pre-K, your child will be encouraged to ask questions and be given satisfactory answers and be able to make decisions about their free time. Would they rather color or build with blocks?
Building Social Skills
Another advantage to preschool is that children are exposed to other children. Between 2011 and 2013, almost 4.5 million children between the ages of three and four went to preschool. Important social skills like sharing, compromising, and being respectful of others in their vicinity, whether it’s another classmate or the teacher are all learned in preschool. Furthermore, preschool also provides that “first separation” which can often make for traumatic first days in kindergarten — and gives you a bit of a break in your day as well!
What Should I Look For in a Top Pre-K?
If you want a truly stellar top Pre-K, look for a school that’s accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children — under 10% of preschools are accredited, so if you find one near you that is, you know it’s top notch. When you do a school visit, inquire about the teachers’ credentials and how many children there are for every teacher. If you can sit in on a regular day, how does the teacher behave? Does he or she ask questions and show patience in answering their questions? Do the kids seem happy and comfortable with him or her?
What Else Should I Consider?
Choosing the right preschool will require a significant amount of research on your end — to find the best schools, you need to do your homework! You of course want to consider distance — how far from your home is the preschool? Is it a full-day preschool or just a half day? Is it secular or religious? Depending on your schedule and needs, the answers to these questions may influence what type of preschool you end up choosing. Call the preschool and find out what’s required for admission, what the financial cost is going to be for you, and whether or not the preschool is state licensed.
You should certainly visit the preschool to see what the classrooms look like and to evaluate the overall feeling and cleanliness of the facilities. Ask about their discipline policy, what kinds of routines your child can expect, and what their progress reports look like.
Choosing a top Pre-K can be a rigorous experience, but by looking at the top preschools in your area, you can rest assured that your child is getting an excellent first education experience that will help them as they move forward.