It seems as though before you even knew you were expecting a child, decisions about care for your child had to be made. As the former director of an established and well-respected Mother’s Morning Out program, I can testify to the fact that some parents would spend the night in the parking lot to make sure they would be the first in line for the sign-up date for our program
As you begin to develop a network of acquaintances who are also expecting or who also have young children, you will soon realize what a wealth of knowledge you have at your disposal. Ask other parents about quality programs in your area. Call the local school district and ask for suggestions for preschool programs. Contact agencies in the area who are known advocates for children. Do your homework!
Once you have a list of possibilities, go visit. While you are visiting, carefully observe the environment. Are the teachers positive and energetic? Are the classrooms stimulating, bright, and engaging? Is it clean, orderly, and safe? Is the outside play space adequate and safe? You want to see hands-on activities where curiosity is encouraged. The program needs to help each child develop a love of learning. Be prepared to ask questions during your visit.
Does this program have a state license?
What are the goals and philosophy of the program?
Do your teachers have early childhood training?
What is your student/teacher ratio?
How do you handle discipline issues?
What is your teacher turnover rate?
What is your cleaning routine for toys, equipment, etc.?
What are your daily procedures?
How do you communicate with parents?
What is the daily schedule?
Do you have a variety of activities? (story time, free exploration, arts/crafts, music, imaginary play)
How do you monitor each child’s progress?
How do you adjust the activities based on that progress?
How do you document my child’s progress?
How do you provide for the emotional support of each child?
Children learn through play. Socialization is immensely important for all children. It takes a lifetime to learn to share! Gifted children often feel different and out of place. Finding true peers, other children who can relate to your child, is such a treasure! If your child makes a connection with another child, it is important to help foster this friendship. Sometimes this is inconvenient at best, but priceless for your child!
Look for a program that offers a variety of learning groups
There are many types of programs for young children. You are the expert on your child. It is up to you to find the best match for that special little person. Take your time and don’t get overwhelmed! Good luck with your search.