Choosing a Nursery School






Choosing a Nursery School





It's hard to believe that your little baby will soon be off to Nursery School. Where did the time go? Who would have thought that you would have to be considering Nursery Schools already! Naturally, as your child grows, you will continue to want to do what's best for your precious little one. Nursery School is a big step for your child, and the proper choice of schools is an important decision for you as parents. Of course you will want your child's first experience of school to be a positive one. Giving sufficient thought and attention to choosing the right Nursery School for your child is important to insure that your choice fits the needs and personality of your child as closely as possible. Your choice of school should provide a safe and stimulating environment for your child that encourages self-esteem and the development of basic social and learning skills.

Get An Early Start!: You'll be amazed at how many Nursery Schools have a waiting list of one year or longer. Start shopping around at least a full year to year and a half before you intend to enroll your child. The easiest and most convenient way to begin is by exploring Nursery School websites or calling several Nursery Schools and requesting brochures about their program. This will provide you with basic information regarding items such as the the qualifications; the class size; the student-teacher ratio; the hours of operation; the cost of tuition, and the overall philosophy of the school. Reading about schools and comparing information will give you a general feel for what is available, especially if you don't know what to expect. Don' forget to also inquire about the length of waiting lists and any enrollment procedures. Keep a record of which schools have significant waiting lists so you can plan far enough ahead.

Get Referrals: If possible, ask parents of Nursery School age children if they can suggest reputable schools. Word of mouth is a great way to learn about the true quality of schools, and will provide you with a first hand account of the programs. If you are unable to speak to other parents, you can check out the yellow pages and listings in local parenting and family magazines.

Know What You're Looking For: Narrow down your choices by determining exactly what you want. Your goal is to find the best fit for your child, for you and of course for your budget. Will your child attend beginning at age 2, 3 or 4? (Some programs only accept 3 and 4 year olds.) Will your child need to be potty trained before attending or are children in diapers acceptable? Are you looking for a full or half day program? Will your child attend 2, 3, 4 or 5 days a week? What can you reasonably afford?

Location, Location, Location: A very important consideration is finding a Nursery School with a convenient location, as well as convenient drop off and pick up hours. First you must decide whether it would be easier to have your Nursery School located by your home or by your office. This of course depends upon your individual work schedule and commuting time. Don't forget to check the route (as well as any alternative routes) to your Nursery School at different times of the day so that you can anticipate and compensate for any traffic delays. Make sure that you will have enough time to reliably make all drop off and pick up times. (Some schools may offer before school or after school coverage to accommodate working parents.)

Know Thy Child: Every child is different and that's exactly why there are a variety of Nursery School programs available.You are the expert when it comes to your child. Focus in on your child's personality, learning style and readiness for school when making your decision. Does your child respond well to structured situations or does he or she seek a freer flow of events? Is he or she "young" (emotionally or socially) or more mature for his/her age? Does your child demonstrate abilities and/or characteristics that are unusual for his or her age group? These are just a few of the many questions that you need to consider when choosing the proper program. There are a variety of different programs available such as Traditional Nursery Schools (structured classroom), Montessori Schools (freer flowing experimentation) and Religious Schools (denominational or inter-denominational) among several others. Programs can range from grouping children by age, grouping by ability, and grouping by special needs. Your best bet is to carefully read all the literature that you receive about a program to determine whether the school's philosophy will suit your child.

Check the Specifics: You will want to check that your Nursery School has a professional staff of certified educators and qualified administrators. Take note of any school accreditation information provided. Pay close attention to information regarding the class size and student-teacher ratio. Smaller classes and lower student-teacher ratios (along with a sufficient amount of teacher aides) are preferable since young children benefit from individual instruction and guidance. You will also want to make sure that the school's facilities include ample classroom and play areas both indoors and outdoors which are safe and stimulating.

See For Yourself: Once you've found a school that appeals to you on paper, check it out in person. Attend any presentations, open houses, or set up informal visits if they are allowed. Try to attend any presentations which take place during the school day since they will give you the best perspective. Viewing students and teachers in action speaks louder than words. Take note of classroom appearances, stimulating activities and decor, orderly routines, professional conduct, bathroom locations and procedures, and most of all, the interaction between teachers and students. A warm and caring environment will the stage for a very positive school experience for your child. Finally, ask yourself, "Can I picture my child enjoying this type of program?" Why not involve your child in the choice???

Coverage Options: Don't forget that things happen! Unfortunately children get sick, schools close due to bad weather and meetings run late. Make sure that you will be able to provide the proper coverage for your child should the unforeseen occur. Look into school procedures, car pooling possibilities, the assistance of trusted family and neighbors or babysitters so that you and your child will be prepared ahead of time.

Taking the time beforehand to evaluate several Nursery School programs will increase the odds that you and your child will be pleased with your final decision. Remember… shop early and shop around!