As with everything, there is not just one perfect preschool, everyone's choice can be perfect for them!
So here are the things I paid attention to and considered when choosing a preschool.
1. Proximity. If we are going to be driving there 4 times (twice, back and forth) it definitely needs to be close by.
2. Referrals. To me, a personal referral that has sent their kids there, is everything. I trust my friends experiences, and they can give me more insights than the school will. If you don't know anyone, maybe ask the school if they offer references!
3. Schedule options that worked for US. I loved preschools that allowed the part time introduction to be a few hours 3 days a week, versus 5 days mandatory and even less hours per day, because by the time I got back home I had to pick her up again. And I personally rather have 4 days with her, to be more flexible to keep traveling until she is older. Also, I saw some preschools had a mandatory introduction period WITH the parents attending full-time with them. To me, that does not work either.
4. TALK to the staff. Make sure you ask questions and see their vibe, ways and philosophy. Again, nothing will be "the best" for everyone. But you can see what aligns best with YOUR ways of parenting. Some ideas to ask them:
- Their educational philosophy
- Educational background and experience of teachers and staff
- Do they also offer a variety of active play type of activities? I found that lots of preschools did not have a lot of variety when it came to activities, and limiting the physical ones to "recess" open play time. I loved that Sofia's preschool had more than one daily activity like soccer, yoga and other forms. But also other daily exposure of fine motor activities like scribbling in shaving cream.
- How do they handle discipline?
I also love to talk to the staff to see their personality, and observe how they act with kids while there. Are they cheerful, patient, calm... I love to see their energy since I find it so important, it's good to observe.
5. Joyful fun classes. It makes learning fun and more laid-back if they have a beautiful and cheerful environment.
6. Nap time. Find out when it is, how they do it, what they do if your kid has trouble adapting. It was one of my main concerns before she started, since she never napped without me or daddy (it went totally fine) so I wanted to know how they would handle that situation.
7. Are meals packed or provided, and if they are provided, what does their menu offer? This was so important to me, I have worked hard on making sure Sofia eats healthy and I did not want a preschool that did not pay attention to that. I love that they offer tons of healthy options for snacks and meals. Including fruit and veggie shakes, and lots of plant-based plant-protein options.
8. A nice patio to be outdoors too. I love that they get some sun and fresh air, and get to play outside often too.
9. Potty training: is it required? Some preschools do, some don't. Some even HELP you potty train. This is an important topic to me since she will be doing the full transition being there for a few hours during three days .
10. Updates. I absolutely love that Sofia's school has an app where they upload photos of my kid and what she is doing, group activity videos, and even what she eats at each exact time (so I am aware and know what to feed her at home so it is not repetitive for example) and they have an easy messenger system to communicate asap if needed.
11. Pricing. Obviously something to consider too.
12. Languages. That’s a plus if you care!