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6 Tips for Choosing the Right Preschool for Your Child

Navigating Madison’s early learning landscape can feel overwhelming — but following our tips for parents can set up your child for school success

Kids Express Learning Center’s picturesque farmette in West Madison is the perfect place to help your preschooler get a headstart on learning.

Choosing the right preschool for your son or daughter isn’t just rough on the heartstrings, it can also feel a little overwhelming.

Between researching the right learning styles for your child, wading through the dizzying array of preschools near Madison, or figuring out how your kid’s school day will fit into your busy family schedule — or budget — a lot of decision-making goes into ensuring your child has a positive, enriching educational experience.

Many parents know that attending preschool provides learning benefits that can extend into a child’s school years and beyond. But did you know children in preschool also get a headstart in tuning their social skills, understanding discipline and structure, and building their self-esteem?

If you’re a parent these factors can add to the pressure of preschool enrollment, but you don’t have to navigate the early learning landscape alone. Our professional staff of early childhood teachers have leveraged years of classroom experience to bring you a list of the top tips to use when picking out the best preschool for your child.

Tip #1: Get to know the school’s teachers and staff

It’s no secret that good teachers are key to helping your child thrive in the classroom. Observe the classroom culture. Ask yourself:

  • Do the preschool teachers seem happy, grumpy or overly stressed?

  • Do teachers yell or roll their eyes at students, or smile and offer kind words and hugs

  • Do they teach lessons with enthusiasm, or are they distracted and disengaged?

A caring preschool teacher will always encourage and engage children in learning, not act like a drill sergeant screaming instructions. When you find a joyful classroom, know that it is reflective of a good teacher.

Outside of the classroom, parents need to know a preschool’s teaching standards. A high quality preschool has appropriate teacher-to-student ratios, and requires its teachers to be properly licensed and educated in the areas of early childhood and development. They should also submit the teachers to a thorough background check, ensuring that all children are comfortable and safe at school.

Tip #2: Study the preschool’s educational philosophy and curriculum

There are many types of preschools to choose from: religious, academic- or play-based, and others such as Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia schools. But no matter what kind of preschool you choose, you’ll want to understand how the school structures its curriculum — and whether it educational philosophy is a good fit for your child.

For example, a play-based program allows children to learn through developmentally appropriate activities at their own pace. A traditional, academic-lead program focuses on building foundational reading and math skills through a structured school day. Most preschools, like Kids Express, utilize a combination of both methods.

Tip #3: Observe the learning environment

Seeing a preschool facility firsthand is your first step to finding a comfortable learning environment for your child. You should see a classroom designed for small children, with lots of appropriately-sized furniture and amenities, decorations and supplies. You should also see well-defined areas for learning and play, like a “make believe” area, a reading nook, or an art corner.

In addition to how a classroom is designed, parents should also observe how clean or crowded the space appears. An orderly classroom is a good sign that teachers and students work together, and have mutual respect for the space — and for each other.

Tip #4: Ask about the preschool’s discipline policy

In a classroom of four-year-olds, things are going to get chaotic every now and then. And as young children grow more independent, they are bound to test the rules of authority. While it’s important to address inappropriate behavior or conflicts in the classroom, a preschool should be focused on helping students resolve their differences, not doling out punishments.

Don’t be afraid to ask a preschool teacher for his or her list of classroom rules, or talk to the school’s director to discuss the discipline policy they employ. Knowing what is expected of your child can help you better prepare them for life in the classroom.

Tip #5: Review the school’s safety protocols

Student safety is a top priority for any parent. You’ll want to talk to the preschool’s director to review the school’s security measures and protocols. For example, what’s the school’s policy for checking out a child for a doctor’s appointment or for authorizing alternative pick-up? Do they lock doors during the school day, or utilize security cameras at the facility? Do they have a safety plan in place in case of a weather event or emergency?

Tip #6: Talk to other parents

Lastly, don’t just rely on the words of school administrators to learn about a preschool. The best preschool’s are found through word of mouth! Talk to your friends and family members about their child’s preschool experience to find the school that suits your family best. After all, starting preschool is huge milestone, and you want your child to be confident, happy and well taken care of.

At Kids Express Learning Center, we’re proud to be a leading preschool in Madison. We welcome parents to take a private tour of our picturesque farmette and see our innovative learning environment for themselves.

Whether it’s meeting our wonderful teachers, reviewing our outstanding curricula for reading and writing, math and science; visiting our bright, well-equipped classrooms; or exploring our vast 10-acre property replete with sporting areas, nature trails, and organic gardens —  you can rest assured that we’re providing your preschooler the best place to get a headstart on learning.

Want to learn more about Kids Express?

Give us a call, or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

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