How to Choose the Right Kindergarten School
By Lily Talley
There are many factors to consider when researching the overall best kindergarten school for your child. Factors can include the school type, classroom size, teacher qualifications, school test scores, school educational philosophies, and much more. This article will give help guide you through this important decision.
Decide private or public
First off, you will need to decide if you want to send your child to a private or public school. Costs can be a big factor in this decision. Some elementary schools go from K-5th grade, while others go all the way through K-12th grade. Charter schools may be another option worth considering. Charter schools are public schools that allow flexibility in structuring academic programs. If you don’t like the schools in your immediate neighborhood, it may be possible to petition to get accepted into a school that is not in your zone. A list of public Seattle schools is available at www.seattleschools.org. A great site for finding schools as well as finding parent reviews is www.greatschools.org.
Decide full-day or half-day
Next, you will need to decide if you prefer half-day or full-day schooling. Some parents strongly believe, backed by academic research, that a child will be better prepared for future schooling, and achieve higher academic performance, if they attend full-day schooling. According to the Seattle Public Schools website, the current Washington state budget for the 2012-13 school year will only pay for half-day care. So if you want full-day care, you will need to pay $2,720 for the school year. Some schools are fully funded which can be confirmed by checking the list on the website.
Be careful of choosing a school that is “overly-academic.” A school that puts an overemphasis on flash cards and testing, instead of learning, can kill your child’s desire to learn. There should be ample opportunities for pretend play, engaging conversations, and interesting activities. Kids learn best through doing, experimenting, touching, and observing. So hopefully you will see a lot of art materials, real objects for counting, and hand-on science projects. The Metropolitan Achievement Test, or a similar scoring system, can help you compare schools across country. The school’s website and admission office should be able to help you learn about the test scores as well. According to research, schools with less than 300 kids and a student-teacher ratio of 18-1 or better, will achieve higher academic performance.
Key questions to ask a parent of your prospective school
- What are the teachers like?
- Can you tell me about the school’s PTA (Parent Teacher Association)?
- Do the kids enjoy going to the school?
- Do you know of any reasons why I should not send my child to the school?
Key questions to ask a prospective teacher
- How good is the library? What resources are available?
- What is the current number of kids in your classroom? Do you have assistants?
- What is your academic background?
- Do you encourage the children to be creative? How so?
- What are your views on discipline? Can you give me some recent examples?
- What credentials do you have?
- How long have you been teaching here and professionally?
Key questions to ask a principal
- Does the school have a particular educational philosophy and mission statement?
- What are the school’s discipline and safety policies?
- How do you monitor students’ progress toward meeting academic standards?
- How good is the library? What resources are available?
- How is technology used to support the teacher and learning?
- What extracurricular opportunities are available for students?
- What professional development/continuing education opportunities do the teachers have?
- What are some of the school’s greatest accomplishments? What are some of the biggest challenges coming up in the next few years?
- Are the teachers expected to follow a strict curriculum, or is there an emphasis on tailoring lesson plans to the needs of each individual kid?
- How does the school treat gifted kids and challenged kids?
Things to look for while touring
- Happy children who enjoy learning.
- Classroom size.
- Observe the principal and teacher and how they interact with others.
- Are the kids encouraged to be creative?
- Do teachers seem enthusiastic and knowledgeable, while asking stimulating questions?
- How well are the facilities maintained? Are the bathrooms clean, and does the school grounds look safe and inviting?
The most important factors
In closing, it’s important to research and to think carefully about which school to send your child to. The final deciding factors will likely be if your child will be happy and if they will feel the joy of learning at the school. Always remember to trust your instincts.
About the author:
Lily Talley is the owner and director for Seattle Learning Center, with over 10 years of experience in teaching. Seattle Learning Center is a childcare center and preschool located in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. The school focuses on education, creativity and physical fitness. If you would like to learn more, please visit www.seattlelearningcenter.com or call 206-673-3080. We look forward to serving you. Thank you!
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