Making Sense of your Preschool Options

Parents of preschool children often worry about what the right preschool choice is for their child. Some preschool programs accept preschoolers as young as 2 ½ while others require that your preschooler be at least 4 years old and potty trained. There are home-based preschool programs, center-based preschool programs, home school preschool options, and preschool programs through university or high school teaching programs. What is the best choice to make for your preschooler?

Best Age to Start Formal Preschool Education

The age that a preschooler will start attending a formal preschool education program varies. All preschoolers are different and what is best for one preschooler may or may not be the best choice for another. As long as you are providing a stimulating home environment and have plenty of quality time with your preschooler, the age that they start attending a formal preschool education program does not really matter. For most preschoolers, 2 ½ is too young to attend a preschool program. Some 3-year-olds may not be ready to be away from their caregiver for an extended period of time. As a general rule, preschoolers should be potty trained and at least 3-4 years old before attending preschooler. This will vary depending on the individual preschooler and the parents working arrangements.

Types of Preschool Education Programs

Center-based preschool programs are the most common. These preschool programs sometimes offer extended day preschool for working parents and other services that may fit your daily schedule. Center-based preschool programs are a good choice for an active and outgoing preschooler. Preschoolers who have had previous experience being away from their parents or caregiver will do well here. The environment is usually highly structured and very engaging for preschoolers with short attention spans. Some Universities and High Schools offer preschool education programs as part of their own child development programs. These vary in quality and you will want to do some research before picking one. If a University has an excellent child development program chances are their preschool education program is quite good and maybe cheaper than other options.

Home-based preschool programs are harder to find because they may not advertise as much as some of the center-based programs. You can determine which home-based preschool programs offer high-quality educational programs by talking to other parents of preschoolers in your area. They can share their personal experiences and opinions of the preschool program. Home-based preschool programs are able to offer much more individual attention because of their flexible routines and smaller class sizes. Many home-based preschool teachers have degrees in child development and experience teaching preschool in various settings. Home-based preschool programs are an excellent choice for preschoolers who are hesitant about being away from their parents and may not have had previous experience being on their own.

Homeschooling is a realistic option for many parents of preschoolers. Parents of preschoolers may feel more comfortable teaching their preschooler at home than placing them in an outside preschool education program. Parents who may not be comfortable homeschooling their child as they move into elementary school and beyond may feel differently about homeschooling a preschooler. There are many resources online and at your local teacher store to help you develop your own curriculum. Some places can send you completely developed curriculum at a reasonable price. Homeschooling may work best for you if you cannot afford a formal education program or if you simply do not have the time to take your preschooler to a weekly preschool program. Homeschool preschool is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your preschooler. Since a quality preschool education program incorporates a lot of play into it, you and your preschooler will enjoy the time that you have together.