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Tips for Choosing the Best Early Childhood Development Program

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When it came time to choose the best early childhood development program, we enrolled our son in two separate preschool. He went to his first school from 8 – 11 a.m., and then he went to another preschool from 12:30 – 4 p.m. Overkill, right?

Chalk it up to indecisiveness. My husband I liked both schools; we just didn’t know which one was the “right” one. So for the first month, he attended two preschools, Monday through Thursday (I should note that he loved both schools—endless playtime and double the friends—or we wouldn’t have sent him to both).

During that month, we observed each school’s structure, lesson plans, amount of free play vs. structured activities, and safety.

Here are some additional tips when choosing an early childhood development program for your child:

Choosing the Best Preschool

• Is there an educational philosophy that is described to parents?
• Are children encouraged to work alone as well as in small groups?
• Does the program provide a daily schedule that provides a consistent routine for the children?
• Do the children in the classroom seem engaged, happy, and interested in what they are doing?
• Are caregivers trained in first aid and CPR?
• Do the child-to-teacher ratios meet or exceed the state’s requirement?
• What is the staff turnover rate?
• Does the facility have an established emergency plan?
• Is the building safe, clean and well-maintained?
• Is there an open-door policy?
• Does the center encourage parent involvement?
• What kind of discipline policies are followed?

After that first month of doubling up on preschools, we chose the least expensive of the two. While price can often be a tie-breaker, our decision was based on another factor. We chose preschool A over preschool B because it enforced consequences for behaviors, and therefore, my son was better behaved. Preschool B was more lax during playtime, which is a green light for my son to find trouble. If you have an active child, I’d recommend visiting a school during recess to ensure the children play safety under a watchful caregiver. That said, follow your instincts and you’re sure to find the best early childhood development program for your child.

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