The Preschool Checklist: A Breakdown of Everything Parents Need to Think About

A parent getting ready to send their child to preschool for the first time is making their way into a whole new world full of more choices than they ever thought possible. The choices range from the teaching method the school prescribes to all the way to the hours of the school. Beyond these choices is the cost of preschool and finding one that is considered “high-quality” that also fits within the family budget. What is a “high-quality” preschool is the next question. For most parents its followed by, what if I can’t afford a “high-quality” preschool; does this mean my child is not going to receive a quality education that makes them school ready? Does this mean my child will be behind when it comes time to start kindergarten? How is my child going to be behind their peers if I can’t afford the best preschool? For most parents, the more research done on preschools the more questions they begin to have. And the more questions one has means the more overwhelmed they become. All of this makes finding the “perfect” preschool for your family one of the most daunting and overwhelming tasks in a young family’s life cycle.

Have no fear. This article is here to help make sense of most parents’ questions and the follow up questions to their original questions. It is designed to walk parents through the preschool process in as seamless a manner as possible. I have designed a checklist that can function as a guide post for parents beginning the fact-finding process.

The checklist and article are broken down into five sections. The first part of the checklist is for the logistics of school, like cost and location. The second part looks at the climate of the school. Section three examines the classroom environment. The fourth section looks at the multiculturalism of the school. Lastly, the checklist offers a list of ideas for parents on how they can take a proactive approach to the process.

Section 1: Logistics

The first things a family needs to think about when it comes to finding a preschool is how it fits into their life. A family’s schedule is typically very busy and managed very closely. Because of this a preschool should fit into the family’s life and not the other way around. A family should not have to make major adjustments to their life and throw their world into chaos just for their child to go to a specific preschool. There are other options, ones that will not make your family life harder to manage. Preschool should make your life a bit easier, not harder.

When it comes to picking a preschool, the first thing a family should do is sit down and create a budget. By looking over all the finances of the family parents can determine a monetary range they can afford before they begin their search. Imagine finding what you think is the perfect preschool, go through the interview process, get your child excited about going there only to realize the school is completely out of your family budget!

Once a family has determined the comfortable cost range it is also important to note what is covered in the cost of the school. Some preschools may seem more expensive, but their tuition might include lunches and snacks where as other schools might expect the families to provide all food for their child. Additionally, if the school takes the children on outings it is important to note if that will be an extra cost to the family or if they are covered by tuition. By making note of all these different factors parents can plan accordingly based off the schools they are choosing from.

The next aspect of logistics is the location of the preschool. Parents want to find a school that fits their commute and does not make it harder for them to get where they need to go each day. As I stated above, preschool should not make life harder for parents. If anything, sending your child to preschool should make life a bit less complex – you now have a set schedule and place for your child multiple days a week and only major things like holidays will interrupt that. Don’t pick a preschool that adds an hour to your already hectic routine. Its already hard enough getting a toddler out of the house in the mornings, you don’t want to make it even harder by waking them up and rushing them before they are ready to face the day. This can only lead to challenging mornings. You have a set routine for your child, pick a school that is within a range that lets you keep that morning routine. Children thrive with consistency, and their morning routine is a big part of that.

The last aspect of logistics is the hours of the center. If you are someone who needs to be at work by 7am and the preschool you are looking at doesn’t start accepting children until 7:30am it will not be a good fit unless you have someone who can help your family in the mornings. This same principal applies to afternoon times. Some preschools have multiple half-days a week or want every child picked up by 6pm. The sc