- Begin by thinking about your own philosophy of education and what the purpose of school is.
What are some of the things you want for your child in Kindergarten? Do you want her to get her hands dirty and experience things close up? Do you believe in collaboration and group work? Look and listen for the philosophy of the school to guide your vision of seeing your child as a student there.
- You are choosing a whole school community, not just a kindergarten.
When looking for a kindergarten, it can be tempting to be laser-focused on the teacher but it’s vital to look at the whole school and see if it looks like home for your child. You’re choosing a school, not just one teacher.
- Seek teachers who are enthusiastic, inspired, and passionate about what they do.
The biggest influences on your child will be the teachers they interact with, so see them in action! If you want a setting where students are encouraged to think creatively, look for teachers who are thinking creatively.
- Learning should be fun!
School is awesome. Learning is awesome, being with friends and teachers who care for you is awesome, and projects are awesome. When you walk into a classroom on a school tour, notice: are the kids’ faces those of happy, involved children? If a child feels the joy of learning, everything else comes naturally.
- A balanced curriculum is an effective curriculum.
A great program has breadth and time for exploration. Look for a school with a strong social/emotional program and teachers who take the time to help children communicate to solve problems and provide time not only for academic learning, but for working together as a classroom community.
- Be attentive to class size-its importance cannot be overstated.
A small class size can mean the difference between a good school experience and an amazing school experience. In small classes, teachers are able to personally attend to each student every day, many times a day. Students are less likely to get lost because they stay engaged academically and socially.
- Talk to current parents.
Parents are a wonderful resource when researching the school you’re interested in. Why did they choose the school? What is the parent expectation for involvement? Generally, parents are happy to share their opinion and will have relevant information for you.
- Explore the daily school schedule and before/after school programs.
A balanced curriculum is reflected in the daily schedule of the school. Look for a program that honors a child’s need to move, explore, and practice, in and out of the classroom. Developmentally appropriate playtime is essential at the kindergarten level and at least one hour of unstructured, but monitored, playtime is ideal.
- Find out the school’s policy on helping children who are ahead and those who need extra help.
Students are a diverse group. Almost without exception, classrooms are full of students working at different levels. Finding a school that actively structures lessons and classroom time around differentiated instruction is critical.
- Above all, VISIT.
The best thing you can do when looking for a school is visit. You are the best judge of what is right for your child, so trust your instincts because you will know what feels right. There is much to consider but have fun on the search!