Note: This post is sponsored by Kindercare.
Deciding on a preschool for my kids was not an easy decision. In fact, the first preschool I chose for Maxwell ended up not being the best fit for him. The teachers were kind, the school was adorable, and the classroom walls were covered in kid made artwork. The preschool had a great reputation. When I tell other parents my child went to this preschool, I always get some variation of, “How did you get in? There is always such a long wait list!”
So, what was the problem?
It was a Spanish immersion preschool where most kids went full time, but Maxwell only went part time. I thought nothing of this arrangement upon sending him to this preschool. It now makes more sense to me that he was likely not understanding the language as well as his full time peers. This possibly made him uncomfortable, confused, and/or feel like he did not belong.
After one year, Maxwell was still clinging to my leg and crying at drop off every morning. My son didn’t like school and that was a problem.
My takeaway from that experience was that choosing a preschool is not a one size fits all and the decision it is also not set in stone, like I had thought just one year prior. If the school doesn’t feel right, your child doesn’t like it, or for any other reason, at any point in time, you are free to explore other options.
I teamed up with Kindercare to share how we (finally) found the perfect preschool for our family. As I started the preschool search for the second time, I came up with this list of practical things to consider and a few important things I like to look for and ask about when touring a preschool.
Practical Things to Consider
I started our preschool search with a list of 10 preschools. It’s important to figure out the basics, things like cost, hours, days a week offered, food requirements, class size and student teacher ratio. I knew I only needed part time child care and really wanted 3 mornings a week. A few of the preschools on my list only offered 5 day a week programs so I crossed those ones off of my list. I narrowed my list down to 5 with a simple phone call.
One thing I did not consider until it was taken away from me was lunch. At Maxwell’s first preschool, a healthy lunch was prepared and fed to the kids each day. I did not have to worry about making a lunch or brining snacks for that matter. At the kids current school, that is not an option and I miss it so much! I’m an not kidding when I say that making lunches is my least favorite mom chore.
Another question I liked to ask on the phone is about, wait for it, juice. If a preschool serves juice to kids everyday that is a big red flag for me. In Austin of the 10 schools I called, only 2 served juice at all. I really appreciate that Kindercare does not serve juice at any location. Read more about why Kindercare does not serve juice.
One more thing I wish I would have considered was future plans. Like I said above, when Maxwell started preschool I only wanted 3 part time days a week. But, now that he’s going into his last year of preschool before kindergarten, I would consider a 5 days a week if it was an option.
Questions to ask preschools
After I gathered the practical information and narrowed it down to 4 preschools. It was time to set up tours and check these places out! I prefer to tour while the kids are in the classrooms. I want to see how teachers are interacting with kids. How kids are interacting with kids. I want to see how kids are using the classroom. Is there easy access to science stations, art supplies, dress-up clothes, and books? I especially like to see dress up clothes, puppets, and dolls in a classroom because these are tools that help teach empathy and kindness.
You’ll be shocked to know that I love to see kid made artwork covering the classroom walls! I also love when kids cubbies are clearly labeled with their names and better yet, pictures! I like when preschools have kid-sized, porcelain toilets instead of the regular sized ones. I want the classroom to scream kids play here and belong here.
Another question that is very important to me is how much time do kids get to spend outside? For me and my kids, the more time spent outdoors the better. At the kids current school, Maxwell’s classroom has access to the outdoors and they often get to eat snacks and lunch outside. My kids thrive (and sleep better, ha!) the more time the spend outdoors.
After time spent outside, my next favorite question is what is the educational philosophy of the school? Like I said before, Maxwell went to a language immersion preschool for one year, but it turned out to not be the right fit for him. I know that Maxwell thrives in a smaller classroom setting so Montessori is likely not the best option for him. I think it’s important to be knowledgeable of the curriculum that will be used to teach your kiddos.
All things considered, what preschool would you most want to attend as a child? And remember, the preschool decision is not final, you are allowed to change your mind at any time for any reason.