How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child

ISBN: 9781402242083

By: Jenifer Wana

Published: 08/10/2010

A must-have for parents of future preschoolers

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“The most useful tool out there for families about to embark on the search for a preschool!” —Helen Cohen, director, Frances Jacobson Early Childhood Center, Boston A must-have for parents of future preschoolers Starting preschool is one of the biggest milestones in a child’s life. With this comprehensive, step-by-step guide, you won’t have to navigate the preschool process alone. Whether the nursery schools nearby enroll every child, or they’re so competitive that they only accept a few applicants, this book has everything you need to know to choose and get into the right preschool for your child. You’ll learn: - How to find high-quality preschools in your area - Insight into popular preschool programs (Montessori, Waldorf, play based, cooperative) - Key criteria to consider when choosing a preschool - Strategies for paying for preschool (financial aid, tax benefits) - How to help prepare your child for the first day of preschool - Advice for gaining admission into competitive programs, including getting off the waiting list, submitting a strong application, and preparing for a child assessment “This well-organized, comprehensive book will help parents navigate the world of preschool.” —Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum, authors of Practical Wisdom for Parents: Raising Self-Confident Children in the Preschool Years and directors of the 92nd Street Y Nursery School, New York “A gift to every parent starting the preschool search.” —Irene Byrne, MA, author of Preschools by the Bay and executive director of the Phoebe Hearst Preschool, San Francisco

About the Author

Jenifer Wana

Jenifer Wana conceived the idea for How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child after going through the process of researching and applying to preschools for her son and while doing a pro bono consulting project for GreatSchools, a nonprofit education organization that helps parents find and evaluate preschools and K–12 schools.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments                               xi
Introduction                                  xiii
Chapter 1: Preschool Primer                     1
What Is Preschool?                                3
Do I Have to Send My Child to Preschool?              5
What Are the Benefits of Preschool?                   6
Is Private Preschool My Only Option?Is There Public Preschool?                         8
Chapter 2: Getting Organized                   13
It’s Never Too Early                              13
Preschool Search Time Line                        15
Tips for Keeping Organized                        19
Chapter 3: Choosing a Preschool: The Basics    21
Know Your Child and Your Family                   22
At What Age Do I Want My Child to Start Preschool?    25
What’s the Best Location?                          28
What Schedule Works Best For Our Family?           30
How Much Can We Afford to Pay for Preschool?        33
Chapter 4: What to Look for in a Preschool     37
What Is the Classroom Like?                        37
What Are the Teachers Like?                       40
How Is the School Run?                           42
What Is the Community Like?                      47
Dedicated Preschool or Ongoing School?              48
What Does the Admissions Process Tell You?           51
What Are the School Policies?                      55
What Matters Most?                              60
Chapter 5: Types of Preschool Programs         63
Child Centered versus Teacher Directed              64
Play Based                                      65
Montessori                                     67
Reggio Emilia                                   70
Waldorf                                        72
Academic                                      74
Preschool Settings                                75
How Much Does It Matter?                        81
Chapter 6: Researching Preschools              83
How to Find Preschools                           84
Narrowing Down Your List of Preschools              87
How Many Preschools Should You Apply To?          90
Chapter 7: Visiting Preschools                  93
Deciding Which Preschools to Visit                  94
Opportunities to Visit                             95
Arranging the Visit                               97
Preparing for Your Visit                           99
During Your Visit                               101
After Your Visit                                113
Chapter 8: The Preschool Admissions Process   115
Open Enrollment                               116
The Waiting List                                117
Regular Admissions                              121
Lottery System                                 123
How Do Preschools Decide Who Gets In?            124
Dos and Don’ts of Applying                       128
Chapter 9: Submitting a Strong Application     131
General Information Section                       131
Application Questions                           132
Tips for Writing                                134
Common Application Questions                    135
Sample Essays                                  139
Recommendation Letters                         140
Chapter 10: Child and Parent Interviews        143
Child Interviews                                143
Parent Interviews                               149
Chapter 11: Making the Final Decision         155
But We Still Haven’t Heard                       157
We’ve Been Wait-Listed—What Now?               157
Our Favorite Preschool Turned Us Down—What Now?  160
Our Child Didn’t Get a Spot at Any Preschool—What Are Our Options?      162
Accepting an Offer                              163
Chapter 12: Paying for Preschool              165
Determine Your Budget                          166
Keeping Preschool Costs Down                    167
Financial Aid                                   169
Dependent-Care Flexible Spending Account          171
Child Care Tax Credit                           173
Child Care Subsidies                             175
Chapter 13: Preschool Readiness Skills         177
Social and Emotional Skills                        178
Cognitive Skills                                 184
Physical Skills                                  187
Separating from Parents                          189
Potty Training                                  189
Chapter 14: Countdown to the First Day of Preschool       193
During the Summer                             193
Three to Four Weeks before Preschool Starts          195
One to Two Weeks before Preschool Starts           198
The Day before Preschool Starts                    206
The First Day of Preschool                        208
Chapter 15: Supporting Your Child throughout Preschool                213
Be Patient—There’s an Adjustment Period            213
Communicate with Your Child and the Teacher       217
Be an Involved Parent                            221
Appendix 1                                     225
Appendix 2                                     229
Appendix 3                                     233
About the Author                             239


This is the book I wanted to read when I started looking for a preschool for my son, Josh. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been written yet.

Like any parents,


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““This book is a great resource for any parent of a toddler getting ready to embark on the road to preschool.”” - Katie Talks About


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Format: Paperback

Length: 8.5 in
Width: 5.5 in
Weight: 12.16 oz
Page Count: 256 pages


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