What Should a Parent Look for in a Good Preschool?
Preschool is about preparing children for lifelong learning. It’s not quite school – it is an age-appropriate learning experience.
Daily activities at a high-quality preschool should center on research-based learning, even though it might look like just a bunch of playing!
1. A Good Preschool Follows a Research-Based Curriculum
High-quality preschools implement a research-based curriculum and assessment system. A learning curriculum allows preschool teachers to organize skills that, once learned, build upon each other. Here are examples of preschool learning:
- Students learn to recognize letters
- Students recognize that combined letters make up words and names
- Students recognize their name
- Students learn to write the letters in their name
- Students learn to write their name
For example, when students learn to recognize letters, they begin to realize those letters combined, spell words/names. They recognize their name and can tell you the letters in their name. This continues and they begin to write the letters in their name. Soon they are writing their whole name and beginning to read sight words. As you can see, this learning continues as they continue their education. A good curriculum will teach students the skills they need to excel now, in kindergarten, and be lifelong learners.
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we follow an age-appropriate, research-based preschool curriculum covering all learning domains.
Important learning domains for preschool students include:
- Language and literacy
- Math and science
- Approaches to learning (how children learn, curiosity, creativity, visually, etc.)
- Motor skill development and physical well-being
- Social and emotional development
2. Student Assessments: How Do I Know My Child is Learning?
Preschool teachers should assess students’ learning regularly. Assessments in preschool don’t have anything to do with taking a test as it does for older children.
Good preschool student assessments should cover the following:
- Fine Motor Skill Assessment – Can the student draw lines? Can the student use scissors?
- Language and Literacy Assessment – Can the student point to ‘L’ on the piece of paper? Can the student identify a circle compared to other shapes?
- Social & Emotional Assessment – Can a child use their words and say, “can I have a turn” rather than making a noise and/or taking a toy from another child?
- Motor Skills and Physical Assessment – Can a student hop? Can a student climb stairs?
3. Small Preschool Classroom Size
In preschool it’s important that your child has a balance of personal learning and social interaction. Look for a good preschool with a high teacher to student ratio. A ratio of 1:10, or one teacher for ten or fewer students, is ideal. A high teacher-student ratio means the teacher will have the time to work with your child, plus there will be an array of other students for your child to befriend.
We recommend that you tour a preschool before enrolling your child. On your tour, you may ask the employees and/or classroom teachers questions.
Questions to ask about a preschool’s class size:
- How many kids are in a classroom?
- How many teachers are in a classroom?
- How many classrooms do you have?
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we have small classroom environments where there is 1 teacher with 7-10 students at a time. Parents often say, “you know my kid so well, I love the personal attention!”
4. Time Spent Learning
It’s important to keep in mind how much time your child will spend learning from a research-based curriculum. Anyone can say they serve preschoolers, but this often refers to serving children who are preschool age in a childcare setting. The difference between childcare services and a high-quality preschool is the focus on learning specific skills in each learning domain.
Questions to ask about time spent learning in a preschool:
- How much time do you spend teaching?
- How often throughout the day is the curriculum being taught?
Memories & Milestones Academy’s preschoolers’ days are organized and planned. Our curriculum is implemented throughout the day. The learning spills out into the hallways, outdoors, and during free play.
5. Teacher Resources
Remember those learning domains from above? Although the learning domains are essential, it’s important for teachers to create personalized learning plans for each student. Because each student is different, teachers need to be able to lean on other teachers and academic resources to improve skills and address behavior issues.
Questions to ask about preschool teacher resources:
- What resources are available for teachers?
- If teachers get stuck, what do they do?
- How do teachers handle behavioral problems?
Memories & Milestones Academy teachers have plenty of supplemental curriculum resources and often consult each other to create the best plan for their students. There’s the personal touch again! The Academy has outside professional resources for both teachers and families when needed.
6. Fun Play & Socialization
Social interaction is a vital aspect of learning for preschoolers. In addition to all the learning we do, we have free play time at Memories & Milestones Academy. This means students get to practice socializing together or doing what they choose during free play each and every day. This means major fun for our preschool students. And this in addition to all the extra fun activities throughout the year, including:
- Share days
- Holiday celebrations
- Movie days
- Magic shows (with a professional magician)
- Bounce house days
- Water/splash day
- And many other fun activities
Plus, our preschoolers love their outdoor play! Our outdoor areas are built specifically for them! With all the fun our students have, it might look like they aren’t learning, but we promise we bring organization to all our preschoolers’ education.
As a parent, it’s important to choose the preschool that you feel best suits your child’s needs. Don’t forget to schedule a tour before making a decision. The benefits of preschool are significant for kids.
About Memories & Milestones Academy
At Memories & Milestones Academy, we’re happy to answer all questions and provide a complimentary walk-thru tour of our preschool classrooms. Contact us to schedule your tour of our preschool classrooms in New Prague or Belle Plaine.
We’re proud to be a preschool provider (plus daycare!) in Belle Plaine and New Prague. Our enrolled families regularly recommend us to family and friends. Our teachers enjoy working here and help to recruit additional teachers.