Is it time for your baby to start school, but you do not know which kindergarten program to send them to? There are so many choices, where do you even begin when choosing a kindergarten program? What is the best school?
There are lots of kindergarten options and reasons to contemplate when choosing a kindergarten program. I have narrowed down the top 8 things every parent should consider to help pick the right kindergarten program for your child.
Kindergarten Program Schedule
Kindergarten programs have lots of different options when it comes to time of day and days of the week that a program operates. Some individual schools even have multiple options for parents. Each kid may be ready for a different amount of kindergarten time and each parent ready for a certain amount of time too.
Some kindergarten programs run all day, and some go half days. Other schools may have kindergarten 5 days a week while others only 2, 3 or 4. Some kindergarten programs even let you switch days during the year. For example, they may offer a 5 day program but let your child ease into it. Maybe your child starts out going 2 or 3 days a week and works up to going all 5 days. There are many schedule options when choosing a kindergarten program.
Kindergarten Program Should Match Family Needs
A school could be amazing, but if you are killing yourself trying to get your kid to school everyday it is not going to work. There are some logistical items to take into consideration when choosing a kindergarten program. This includes the following:
- In/Out of district. There are usually advantages to attending the school in your district.
- Transportation. Does the school provide bussing? Will you have to drop off and pick up each day?
- School Location. Is the school close to your house? Do you have to drive across town each day – twice – to drop off and pick up? Is the school near your work? Or will you have to drive an hour just to go pick your kid up when they are sick, to catch a program or performance?
- Tuition. Is the school public or private? How much will you have to pay out of pocket for tuition to attend this kindergarten program?
- School Meals. In addition to tuition, is breakfast/lunch provided or will you have to pay for this each day? Will you have to pack a bag breakfast/lunch each day?
- Before/After Care. Does the school provide daycare services before and after school? If the school day is shorter than your work day, then you will have to figure out child care. There are different childcare options out there. However, it can be handy if the school has a childcare option.
Look into what and how your child will be learning in the class. What is their main focus and what outcomes will they work towards for your child? What kind of check points are there to test their learning? Will they have homework? What structures and boundaries do they have in place?
There is a law with how many kids there can be with a teacher. Some schools do better than this ratio while others slide by it. What is the class size in this kindergarten program? How many teachers are there in the class that will be working with my child on a regular basis? This reflects how much attention your child will get throughout the day.
Choose a Kindergarten Program With a Good School Community
Familiarize yourself with the class and school culture. Request to take a tour of the school before making a decision. Talk to other parents that are currently in the kindergarten program. Ask them the following questions to help you get more information about the school.
- Do you like the teacher? What has your experience been with the teacher(s)?
- Do you like the principal?
- Does the program have a positive reputation?
- Would you recommend this kindergarten program?
- As a new parent anything I should know?
Check into some other aspects of the school and what the child will be doing in their time each day. What does the child have access to in the classroom and at the school? Is there a playground? A gym? Will they have special classes like art, music, science, physical education? What kind of technology does the school use and is it incorporated into your child’s learning?
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Kindergarten Program
There many things to consider when choosing a kindergarten program for your baby. Some items are more important than others. You will get that “feeling” when you found the right school. In fact, if you try a school and it doesn’t work for you, do not worry because you can always switch schools the next year.