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How to choose a kindergarten

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Getting ready for school

Stressing out about kindergarten choice? Join the club. Parents everywhere are in the kindergarten frenzy right now, comparing the offerings and merits of schools. So, how do you choose the right one for your child? These tips will help.

Playtime

You want your child to have the best education possible, so rigorous academics from day one are important, right? No.

Playtime is important for kindergarteners: It builds important life skills such as cooperation, sharing, turn taking and more. "Parents often think they should opt for a academically rigorous choice, but early childhood experts recommend a play-based experiential approach to learning at this age. This is supported by research, including recent neuro-science research indicating the harm caused by pushing children to read and write too early," says Victoria Brown, PhD, director of Lucy School: An Arts-Based School and Teacher Training Center.

How to choose a kindergarten

First, visit all your options so you can see first hand what the school is like. "Trust your Mommy and Daddy instincts. Does the place feel right? Relax. If your child senses you're stressed, she will be, too," says Darshana Patel, a spokesperson for Sylvan Learning.

Next, consider what the schools offer. Which one feels like the best fit for your child?

Finally, consider the bigger picture. Will your child have more or fewer opportunities at each school? How much can be supplemented beyond school?

Do your research and trust your instincts -- and you'll make the right kindergarten decision.

If your child has a summer birthday, do you plan on holding them back a year (making them the oldest in the class) or having them start kindergarten as planned?

More tips on kindergarten preparation:

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