Hello, my name is Evelyn Escatiole, and I am looking to start my child in school but I'm unsure where to exactly start her off and I'm a first time mother and this is my first time approach in school wise. I would like to know if there was someone I can speak to over the phone?

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Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC, Certified Youth, Parent, Family Coach; Education & Parenting Consultant, Speaker and Author

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I am so glad you asked this great question! I answer it often when working with parent groups. Whenever parents ask this question, I give them several pieces of advice. It is important to find a preschool that has a director and staff who understand developmentally appropriate practice. Every child learns at a different rate and that has to be respected. It is also detrimental to teach and push young children in a way that isn't appropriate for their development and abilities. Expectations need to be realistic and based on fact, not a desire to enroll and earn more money. Very basically, young children need the freedom to explore and make choices with an understanding that their individual developmental levels matter because they are not all alike. They need a lot of opportunities to try new skills without critique.

The most important goals of a preschool should relate to teaching socialization and behavior. Preschoolers need to learn how to function in a group of peers and how to negotiate the ins & outs of being part of a larger society. Discipline should be taught - there is no place for punishment. Ask a lot of questions about how they handle challenging behaviors.

Go to the preschools and listen carefully. Do you hear yelling? Are the children being guided respectfully? Are the teachers being helpful as the children learn life lessons about different places having different rules, how to get along with others, etc.?

You also want to look at the art on the walls. The best preschools have child-created art and not teacher created art. If all the art looks the same - all the pieces glued in all the right places, for example - it is not a good sign. We want young children to have the freedom of self-expression and to be developing critical thinking and decision making skills. Being able to paint whatever blob they want or gluing pieces where they see fit are some of the first experiences children have with making decisions. When preschools value their creations, they gain self-confidence.

As you can see, I could go on & on. Check out the articles I've written on this site and you are welcome to check out my website & blog by going to www.helpingkidsachieve.com.

Kate Zinsser, Katherine (Kate) Zinsser is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research focuses on identifying effective social-emotional teaching practices and the formation of educational environments that promote teacher and child w

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Hi there Evelyn, as a first time parent and an expert in early childhood education I can understand the angst that comes with starting to think about schooling options for your young child. I'm happy to offer any advice I can through Noodle. Can you tell me a little bit more about your daughter and your school options? E.g., How old is your daughter? What are your goals/hopes for your child in the next year or two? In what type of area do you live? major city? suburb? more rural? - that might effect what types of options you have to choose among. What are your greatest concerns/questions about early education?

The choice of when and where to send your child is important, but it's also important to remember that your care and concern are even more vital! The fact that you're reaching out for help, and care deeply about finding the right place for your daughter says a lot about you as a parent.

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