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When it comes to deciding upon a preschool for your child, there are more options than one could count across the Upstate. Do you choose a school tied to a church? Do you want something close to home or to work? Does the school meet your expectations?

Amity Buckner, Executive Director of Pickens County First Steps, advises parents to check for the school’s vision and/or mission statement first to about the type of school it is. She also recommends going on a tour of potential schools. 

* Upstate Parent Preschool Guide*

“Preschools typically have enrollment for the next school year in February,” she said. “If you are interested in visiting several, I would suggest that you start in November and continue in January.”

Need some tips for what to look for when you visit? Here are four things to consider when touring a preschool:

·      Are the teachers encouraging? Teachers should be willing to get down on the child’s level to talk, answer questions and listen. Preschool teachers should not yell at or scold young children. They should explain things in a loving way that the child will understand.

·      When a child is misbehaving, the teachers should focus on helping the child and redirecting, not punishing the child. Children under age 5 have a hard time with self-control and awareness, so helping them with a problem rather than punishing is also something parents should be looking for in a preschool setting.

·      See if the classrooms are fun and joyful. Are kids sullen or are they having fun? Preschool classrooms should be full of play items, colors and happy children. Preschoolers learn through play, and a good preschool teacher will rotate enriching and educational toys through the classroom for the children. “Play really is the child’s work,” Buckner said.

·      Are the children and the staff happy? Happy children want to return to school to continue learning. Happy and well supported staff are eager to teach and love on the children left in their care.

Buckner said she recommends against visiting a preschool with your child, as they might have a hard time leaving, and they might cause a disruption for students in classes.

“Many preschools will have a policy regarding visitation, so you will want to call the school before you visit to be sure you know when the best time is,” she said. “At this time, you might want to ask the school what their preference is on children visiting.” 

One red flag parents should be on the lookout for is the use of too many worksheets. Buckner said that preschool aged children are not mature enough, nor do they have the dexterity to do worksheets for a long period of time.

Nobody can decide what school is best for your child except you. But hopefully touring the schools you have in mind and seeing classroom interactions first hand will help you in your search for the perfect preschool.

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