The new school term may be starting very soon, but there is still time for you to find an affordable preschool for your child. Choosing a preschool is a big decision, therefore don’t let the timing deadline push you into choosing a school that isn’t completely right for your child. Here’s what you can do to find the right, affordable preschool that suits your child’s needs and your expectations.
Identify What You’re Looking For
You’ll likely have expectations of what you expect from your child’s preschool. Make a list of everything, which can help when visiting the potential schools. Important things to identify include: what you’re looking for when it comes to proximity to your house/work, the curriculum, class size and the teaching style. A budget of how much you can afford to spend will also influence your decision.
Find a list of preschools in your area- this can be as simple as using Google Maps. Then narrow each one down by researching them online. Pay attention to any reviews or comments the schools may have (such as on social media pages), however bear in mind that these shouldn’t cause you to completely decide on or discard an option (unless of course the comments are overwhelmingly negative). A school’s website can also provide you with general information that’s important such as fees, the enrollment process, how long the school day is and if extra-curricula activities are offered.
Speak to Other Parents
Getting advice from parents you trust is important. Find out where they’re sending their children, what factors influenced them to choose or disregard a certain school, what they’ve heard by word-of-mouth or firsthand experiences and other information that may influence your decision. Positive opinions can be a powerful endorsement.
Visit the School
Once you’ve decided on a few reputable schools, set up times to go visit the school and meet with the teachers and director. Visiting the school can give you a better feel for how the school operates and if it meets your expectations. Speaking to the teachers and those in charge can provide you with a better understanding of how the school works, as well as how their values and principles are reflected in their teaching styles. Here you can discuss the curriculum and decide if your child will benefit from the structure and content. A curriculum should be regulated and challenging enough without being too difficult. The rate of teacher-turnover might be worth considering too, as you want your child to have a teacher who makes them feel comfortable by being consistent.
Walking around the premises can also give you a good sense of the place. When viewing the classrooms, pay attention to the teacher-to-child ratio, and also how child-safe and clean the place is.
See How Your Child Feels
After deciding on the right school and checking references with other parents at the school, it’s important to see how your child fits in at the school. Take your child to visit the school and see how they interact with the teachers, other children and the surroundings. See how the teacher interacts with your child and if they are interested in getting to know them, and if your child enjoys the activities. Your child not wanting to leave is a good sign. If you are pressured for time, it’s worth taking your child to visit the school on your first visit.
Print out all applications, mark registration dates in your calendar and prioritize your child’s admittance into the school. Find out how hard it is to get a place and what you can do to maximize your chances. If there are no openings available, get on a waiting list. Visit and apply to other schools as a backup in case your child is not accepted into your first choice preschool. While it’s important that the preschool feels like the right fit, if you don’t land up getting your first pick, make sure to apply earlier the following year so that your child can transfer to the right, affordable school of your choice.