Mom's Talk Q & A: Which Preschool?

When do you start your child in preschool? How many days? Which preschools do you recommend?

For many parents, it's time to consider preschool for their children.

A Sandy Springs Patch Mom's Council member has a two and half-year-old and recently said, "My daughter is almost ready to start preschool. I have no idea where to even begin looking for a good preschool to send her.  The only thing I know is that I want to stay in Sandy Springs." 

At what age did your children start preschool and which do you recommend?

How many days do they start with? 

Greg Kaiser March 25, 2011 at 02:14 PM
My name is Greg Kaiser, and for the past three years I have served as the principal of the Alan A. Lewis Pre-School at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School. The questions you ask here are ones that I hear often, and I thought I would take a few moments to offer my "two-cents worth." There are several things I would suggest to a parent searching for the right preschool. First, be mindful of accreditation. Accreditation from a nationally recognized accrediting agency insures that the school has been designed to meet high standards, and that those standards are reviewed and critiqued by a committee of educators on a regular basis. For preschools, accreditation from the National Association for Educators of Young Children (NAEYC) is good. Even better, in my opinion, is joint accreditation from the The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and SAIS (Southern Association of Independent Schools). While NAEYC accreditation is significant, I find that their standards are geared more toward daycare facilities rather than schools, while SACS/SAIS is focused on more long-term academic programs. Again, this is only my opinion.
Greg Kaiser March 25, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Be sure to visit any preschools you are considering when there are students actually present. In this way you can best get a feel for the learning environment. Some schools will allow you to actually observe classes in session. This is also a good idea, because it will give you the best understanding of how the teachers interact with the children, and whether the children are engaged in active learning, or whether the lessons are more teacher-driven. Does the school offer programs such as music? Art? Physical education? Foreign language? If so, in what way, and how often? Is there a guidance counselor available to support the social and emotional development needs that are so important to children at preschool age? Is this person also available to support parents? Other questions to ask include: What is the school's policy on recess? How often do the kids go outside, and for how long? Is there a registered nurse in the building? What about campus security? What other resources are available? Dose the school use a prescribed curriculum? What are the various reading, handwriting, math, spelling and other programs being used?
Greg Kaiser March 25, 2011 at 02:31 PM
All of these questions are important, but at the end of the day, there is one question that is more important than all the others: would this be a good place for me child? As the parent, you know your little one better than anyone else. When you walk into a school, you should get a feeling in your heart that says "Yes, would be a good place for my child. This feels right." Your child's school should be a place where he or she feels safe, and supported, and most importantly, loved. The primary role of a preschool is to introduce children to a love of learning. To teach them how to explore... to ask questions... to be students of the world. It is important that they know that, whether they are three years old or one-hundred and three, they have something to contribute to the school, and to the world, and that they have a responsibility to do so. They can't learn that if they don't feel safe and loved. The school must establish an environment of love, first, and if it is successful in that, then the learning will naturally follow. And you need to feel that sense of security in your heart, too, because if you as the parent don't feel it, chances are your child will not, either. I hope my ramblings here have been helpful. Please feel free to contact me at greg.kaiser@hies.org if I can answer any other questions, or be of any other help. I wish you great success in your search. Greg Kaiser Principal, Alan A. Lewis Pre-School Holy Innocents' Episcopal School
Kathy Powell March 26, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Thanks for all the great information, Greg!
Adrianne Murchison March 28, 2011 at 03:55 AM
I'd like to thank you too, Greg. Very helpful information!!


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