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How to find the perfect preschool

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

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Picking the perfect preschool can be as challenging as finding the perfect baby name, but with a little research -- and the right questions to ask -- you can find the right place for your youngster. From where to find referrals to questions like the adult to child ratio, discover the best way to find the right preschool for your kiddo.

Preschool classroom
1Types of preschools

There are two types of preschools: One type is similar to in-home childcare, while the other is located in a licensed facility other than a home. Although both can provide child enrichment programs, the decision on what is the best environment for your precious cargo comes down to your comfort level and your part-time or full-time preschool needs.

2Where to find preschool referrals

Check with your county and state for a list of preschools and childcare providers. They will have the contact information for both license and non-licensed facilities, commonly online.

You can also ask your friends, family or mom's group for their experiences when hunting for the right preschool. Word-of-mouth endorsements are the strongest resource you can have when making such an important decision for your little one.

3How to interview a preschool

Knowing what questions to ask when faced with the important decisions of your child's first education can make the process more efficient:

  • Set up a time to visit during hours where kids are engaging in learning
  • Inquire about licensing, accreditations and length of time in business
  • Research the child-adult ratio -- the National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends a one adult to eight to 12 kids ratio for preschoolers
  • Study their curriculum
  • Find out if there's a waiting list
  • Ask about potty training requirements and rules
  • Investigate any complaints through the state's social services division
  • Find out about schedule, including days, times, holidays and school closures
  • Request information about fees, vacation payment policies and sibling discount

When discovering how to interview the perfect preschool, don't ignore any gut feelings you may have. "Before you choose a preschool, make sure you're comfortable with the program and the environment," advises Michael Weston, Spokesperson for the California Department of Social Services.

"If safety is in question, request the licensing records from the preschool, which should be on site covering the last year. Or, you can call social services and get a file review on any serious deficiencies."

Feelings of apprehension about any preschool or childcare should not be ignored when it comes to leaving your child in the care of another, because the safety of your youngster is the most important factor when finding the perfect preschool.

More on preschool

Choosing a preschool
Preschool drop-offs and crying
4 Preschool skills needed for kindergarten success


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