It’s January and probably the last thing on your mind is the following school year. For our family, what to do for our children’s schooling has been a topic of many conversations! While we were leaning towards homeschooling, a year ago we decided to enroll my oldest in a structured preschool program. We had planned on enrolling him for this school year but we ended up enrolling him the remainder of the school year last year. It was a such a good experience for him and for me (you know that whole letting go of your baby thing!) I learned a few things about finding the right preschool for our family I wanted to share a few tips.
The age guidelines in Iowa go by the 15th of September. Most private preschools follow this guideline as well. So your child must be 3 or 4 on or before the 15th of September.
Preschools in the metro start taking registrations now. So if you know where you want your child to go, get your registration in now! If you don’t have a preschooler remember this and make sure you contact them early to get on their list when the time is right.
Ask your friends where they sent their children to preschool and what they liked/disliked about the school. If you want to get a lot of feedback pose the question on Facebook!
New to the area and don’t know anyone; check out this site Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral. You can register for free (I just did and it is super easy) and they will give you a list of preschool centers in your area.
I suggest narrowing down your list to visiting 3 or 4 centers. Call the center and ask to visit during class time. You will get a great feel for the structure and environment of the classroom. Make a list of questions to ask the teachers. Take a notepad to take notes or write notes on once you get back in the car or you will forget!
Before you visit or contact the centers, decide what is important to you. Is it the cost, the length of day/hours, or are you more concerned with the best academic program. If you are like me, I wanted a program that was not as focused on the academics but more focused on playtime. I wasn’t worried about him academically and we attend a weekly Bible study where the children’s program is very structured so we just wanted him to have some playtime! Touring the classrooms really helped me narrow down what was important to me and I realized what I was looking for in a preschool program.
Trust your gut. I was sitting in the parking lot about ready to take a registration into one preschool and it just didn’t feel right. I am really glad I kept looking and found a preschool I was totally comfortable with.
Some public schools do have free or reduced cost preschool programs. Call your local district and ask how to register. They are typically a lottery program and don’t have income guidelines. It is probably too late to register for Fall 2013 in the public preschool programs. But I would suggest calling and asking about programs your district offers so you can be prepared for next year.
If you feel like you might qualify for an income based preschool program I highly encourage you to contact Drake University Head Start.
Once you find the perfect school your new project will be making a place for all amazing creations your child will bring home!
Do you have any tips on finding the perfect preschool for your precious child?