There are a million questions parents might have as they make plans to send their little ones off to school for the very first time. Too often when the time arrives to ask the right questions, the mind goes blank. Now what? Simplify.
Let me assure you, it’s okay to keep it simple. You basically want to know these things:
What will my child learn?
A good way to ask this question is, “What can I expect my child know by the end of the school year?” Compare that answer to what you hope the outcomes will be: recognizing letters and letter sounds, counting, playing nicely, overcoming shyness.
How will my child learn?
This question addresses the school’s teaching philosophy and curriculum approach. Simply ask, “What kind of school is this?” There are a few common approaches to early childhood learning. In a Montessori school the child learns at his or her own pace with the teacher as a guide. The Reggio Emilia approach is gaining in popularity and is also child-led, while teacher provides learning around the child’s interests. A teacher-led philosophy provides structured lessons constructed by and presented through the teacher with specific objectives and outcomes in mind. This can be accomplished using theme-based curriculum, and can be tailored to reach each individual.
Will my child make friends?
Just like you have preferences in your circle of friends, your child will, too. It is very natural for young children to socialize and play with others who share common interests, dinosaurs, for example. You will want to know if your child will have opportunities to socialize with their classmates by asking, “How do the children get to know each other?” The teacher wants to be your child’s friend, too.
Is my baby safe here?
Leaving your child in the care of a “perfect stranger” can be unsettling. Go with your gut – really! Spend time with the teacher and/or preschool director in the classroom before, during or after school. Feel free to ask questions and be open about your concerns. Child care facilities are highly regulated by government agencies. You can start the conversation with, “I’m sure you’re licensed but what do I need to know about Junior’s safety?” Most likely, your child’s teacher has children of their own and understands your desire to build trust.
What do I do about my own fear?
The best words ever spoken to me by a teacher on the first day of school were, “Don’t worry. I’ve been teaching for twenty years. I’ve raised two boys. There is nothing your son will do that will surprise me.” I was so relieved that this beautiful woman understood my greatest fears and connected with me so confidently in that moment. She earned my trust and I didn’t cry until I got to the car.
Take time to visit with your child about their school day, as well. Ask them specific questions like, “Tell me about your friends.” “Sing me a school song.” “What did you make with your hands today?” “Did you wash after going potty?” Be a good listener – your child’s perspective may be the best indicator of your preschool choice!
We encourage questions at My Friend Mary’s Preschool! Call us (208.854.9900) or visit or website (www.maryspreschool.com) to get your questions answered. We’d love to meet you and your preschooler, so schedule a tour when you call or visit our website… we’ll make sure you get answers to your simple questions!