When the time comes to look for a Prek, parents usually consider a safe and nurturing environment where their child will be challenged. Effective preschool years have been shown to have a positive impact on children's development and learning, including:
But as a new parent, the question of what is the best preschool can quickly become overwhelming, and the variety of options to choose from, including public schools, charter schools, and private schools, is not easy to navigate.
Don’t worry! We've got you covered! In this guide, we will review key aspects and how to choose the best preschool for your child.
The type of preschool you choose should be based on your expectations and beliefs, as well as where your child will attend elementary school. It is important to align family expectations and the preschool environment in preparation for elementary school years.
The best pre-k programs will meet students where they are, support knowledge acquisition through play based instruction and learning environments, while maintaining their inherent love for learning and building autonomy.
Takeaway: Due diligence via school visits and parental observations are critical—schools that represent different learning styles can actually share similar methods, and schools that claim to follow an approach may actually be quite different.
A schedule can say a lot about a preschool’s priorities. Be sure to check the weekly schedule, as well as the annual school calendar for days in session and special events. Here are some helpful tips:
Takeaway: Carefully review the weekly schedules and annual calendars for all preschools you visit.
Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found, “Early social-emotional skills are linked with a wide array of positive adult outcomes, including positive mental health, interpersonal relationships, educational attainment, civic engagement, productive employment, and physical health in later life.”
With proper training for teachers, the best preschools optimize social emotional learning for their students. This doesn't just mean playing with other children, but also interacting with adults and learning how to get along with others.
Takeaway: Check to make sure the preschool has not only a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning, but an intentional approach to supporting and monitoring students’ development.
In an increasingly interconnected world, it is important for children to learn to more than one language and culture. Yet, the benefits of learning a second language go beyond simple language acquisition. There is no better time to learn another language than during these early years. Whether your child speaks one or more languages, an effective dual-language program will help him/her develop strong language skills.
Takeaway: The best preschool dual language programs offer children the opportunity to discover a language and a culture that will last a lifetime and provide ample benefits later in life.
When it comes to physical movement and outdoor space for preschoolers, there are some key things to keep in mind. First, movement is absolutely crucial—not only for physical development, but for social and cognitive growth as well. Little ones need to be constantly on the move and engaged in active play throughout the school day.
Takeaway: Look for indoor and outdoor space and ample time scheduled daily both for structured and unstructured play.
Family engagement is important for all children but especially so in pre-k. It can help with the transition from home to school, provide support for the learning process and help make connections to the world around them. In addition to being a place where your child will learn, preschool is a critical time where they can be supported by their family.
Family engagement can also be challenging for some families if the school does not support it. When you are exploring preschool options, here are some tips:
Takeaway: Be sure to find out specifics of how the school and teachers communicate with families and how they actively promote frequent family engagement.
So how do you choose the best preschool for your child? Remember that children develop at different rates and no two preschoolers are alike. Some will be ready before others, it’s all about meeting your children where they are. So be sure to visit preschools of interest and ask plenty of questions, it is crucial to find a good fit for your child’s needs and interests and a school that aligns with your own parental philosophy. Choosing the best pre-k is one of the most important things you can do for your child so your time spent is well worth it!
Most importantly, remember that the preschool years are a time of magic and wonder that pass quickly, so be sure to enjoy them!
A. Fantis School is a small, private, and inclusive Greek Orthodox school in Brooklyn Heights for preschool to 8th grade. Our graduates enter their high schools of choice fluent in Greek and educated in the Socratic Method with strong faith as foundation. The best way to experience Fantis is to see it in action. Join one of our upcoming in-person Open Houses or request an information packet.
Ms. Randie Bader, A. Fantis Preschool Director, has been an early childhood educator for over 40 years—yet she still feels inspired every time she walks into a preschool classroom. As Preschool Director, her goal is to guide and support teachers, students and parents and to ensure that the A. Fantis preschool program continues to flourish. Our student centered, play based, hands on instruction capitalizes on kids’ inherent curiosity and their sense of wonder. She seeks to create an environment where young children can explore, play and engage, developing self confidence, social skills and a joy of learning that will prepare them for their future education.
Ms. Bader is a native New Yorker and currently lives with her husband in Park Slope. They have three grown children and three grandchildren. Before joining A. Fantis, Ms. Bader owned, operated, directed and taught at Huggs Day School in Park Slope for 37 years. It was a dream come true. Now I feel so fortunate to have found a new home at A. Fantis School.