Preschool near me | how to find one that doesn’t suck!
Finding the best preschool near me…
I’ll be honest with you from the start…my kids have never gone to preschool.
I’m an ex-preschool teacher turned teacher trainer turned home schooling parent and I’m here to tell you what makes a great preschool.
I have to say that I’ve seen enough terrible Education establishments to put me off but there are actually some pretty awesome people running successful preschools…you just need to know what to look for.
Contrary to what you might think, inspection reports do not tell the whole story.
Obviously, you’ll want to know that child protection procedures and the health and safety stuff is in order but there’s more to finding the best preschool nearby than a inspectors report…
How to find the best preschool near me…
Although sending your toddler to a preschool is not a legal requirement, many parents choose to do so because of work commitments.
What should I look for in a preschool near me?
1. Understands developmental stages.
I mean a place that truly understands what being a toddler means.
We choose to home school for a number of reasons but my biggest concern after ten years working in Education was the lack of understanding surrounding child development.
Don’t be afraid to talk to preschool staff about the expectations they have for the children in their care.
Anyone who understands toddler development would not expect them to sit still for extended periods or share a toy.
They would also expect toddler meltdowns and respond to them with support and empathy.
2. Outdoors space
Unsurprisingly there are science-backed reasons why our toddlers should be spending several hours outside every day.
Enjoying and exploring the natural world not only encourages a child’s physical development but also improves cognitive functions too.
A preschool with outdoor space is great option. Better still a forest school type setting where time spent outside is the focus.
3. Kindness and compassion
This would be top of my ” finding the best preschool near me” list!
Children who are treated with kindness and compassion are much more likely to grow up to be kind and compassionate.
You may find that a smaller preschool or childminder might be more suited to your child’s needs.
Ask the preschools nearby what their procedure for dealing with a specific situation was e.g. my child refusing to share a toy.
Choose a preschool that aligns with your parenting style.
4. A ‘yes’ environment
Think about how much a toddler has to hear the word “no” or similar when you take them on a shopping trip in town.
It’s not surprising that these outings often end in a meltdown!
Toddlers need to be in “yes” environments as often as possible…it just works out so much better for everyone involved.
“Yes” environments are places where parents don’t feel the need to say “no” unless it’s entirely necessary.
Toddlers need clear, simple and logical rules that are in place to keep them safe.
A friend told me about a preschool where they had beautifully decorated the gravel in the garden with colored stones BUT the children weren’t allowed to touch them.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful a place looks if it’s been created for the benefit of the adults rather than the preschoolers.
5. Meaningful observation.
The most important things that toddlers need to learn are things that happen naturally through the course of the day.
Social interactions are a big deal during toddler hood and having an interested adult close-by is essential.
Toddlers who are unobserved will often become frustrated or anxious and resort to hitting, biting or kicking.
Good preschools will understand their role in guiding these social interactions.
There’s no need to force sharing, insist on apologies, hand-shakes or hugs.
Toddlers will learn these skills from watching those around them interact.
6. No “good boys” or “naughty girls”
Beware of preschools that use empty-praise, threats and reward charts.
Although these may appear to work on the surface there will often be many children left disheartened and upset by these methods.
When we call a child “good” for eating all of their dinner we are calling the child who didn’t eat theirs “bad”.
When we call a child “good” for getting full marks in a spelling test, we are calling her friend who studied all week but got 4 wrong “bad”
Praise should reflect actions so you want to hear things like “good effort, you really worked hard on that!”
7. Focus of learning through play
The wonderful thing about toddlers is that they still love to learn.
We haven’t yet taught them that learning is something unpleasant that they must suffer everyday.
It’s asking questions and searching for answers, it’s touching, squishing, stomping, watching and dropping.
Early years education should be flexible and follow a child’s interests.
There is absolutely no benefit to teaching reading and writing before a child is ready.
Research shows the opposite to be true infact, with later readers not only performing as well but also retaining their enthusiasm.
If you’d like to find our more about your home educating options then read more here and find out what the law states in your country.
I hope this list of things I’d consider if I were looking for a preschool near me has helped you in your search. Good luck! xxx