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.
Great Article! Finding the right kindergarten is very important to your child’s development. These are many great things to consider. 🙂
Olivia Smart says
Thank you for explaining that school location is very important to consider when looking for a kindergarten program. My daughter has been wondering where would be the best place for her kids to go to kindergarten. It seems like choosing a convenient location from home or work could be best.
Thank you for the comment! We actually switched schools for my son after kindergarten because the first school was just too far away. We are very happy we made the switch and the school is just as good if not better. Good luck to your grandkids:)
Do you think a very small playground/running field/old campus should be a reason not to chose the kindergarten? Do small children really need a big field?
Thank you for the question/comment! I think it could be – depending on if they have space to play and run outside of school and how big of a priority it is to you. If everything else at the school is top notch and this is the only negative and your child is able to get outdoor space elsewhere than it may be a good fit. The good news is – if you give it a try and it doesn’t work out, you can change next year.
Sabrina Addams says
I liked how you brought up the teacher to student ratio and the importance of asking about it. My son will be going into kindergarten next year so we’re looking into some different programs in the area. I think knowing the teacher to student ratio could help us with figuring out which school’s program could help our son the most.
It is definitely something to consider. You want to know how much attention your child will be receiving from the teacher especially at this age. If if the student/teacher ratio is high – you know they won’t be getting as much just because there are that many more kids. Also, a follow up question is to ask how many other classroom helpers there are – they may have other adults that come in to help besides just having 1 teacher in the classroom.
Charlotte Fleet says
My husband and I want to send our 6-year-old son to kindergarten and want to find the best school for him. I love how you suggest taking a tour of a school to familiarize yourself with the culture there before you choose to send your child there. We will have to make sure that we tour a kindergarten to ensure that it is a good fit for our son before we make a decision.
Yes I highly suggest taking a tour. You can read information, but it really helps to see it live and in action to help see if it would be a good fit. As you tour think to yourself can I see my child being a student here? Can I see being a part of this school community? Best of luck to you!
Megan Alder says
I love that you talked about these different things to consider before choosing the best kindergarten program for your kids. My friend’s daughter is starting school next year, and I’m sure she’ll be interested in knowing how important it is to ask if a school has a before or aftercare, in case her work schedule gets longer.
Thanks for your comment Megan! Having worked in school operations the past 13 years I got tons of operational and organizational school related questions so that has helped me know what parents are looking for and the behind the scenes things that matter when choosing the right school for you and your child.
Tay Anderson says
I like how you mentioned that you should take into account if there is a playground or art classes. One of my friends has a young son. These tips could potentially help her find a great kindergarten program for him, so thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for the comment. I hope it can help!
Victoria Addington says
My daughter is turning five this coming October, and I’m hoping to send her to a good kindergarten school where she can learn a lot. It’s great that you listed the things to consider when choosing one. Perhaps, I’ll consider the program’s reputation by reading reviews online. I’ll also check other amenities the school can offer.
So glad to hear it could be of help! Thank you for the comment. Best of luck as you choose a school and best wishes for a great school experience:)