Nolan: Second #preschool tour - it felt like family! #motherhood #kids #toddlers

We are in the process of finding a preschool for Nolan and so far, it's going really well. You can read about how we started the process HERE.

To continue the preschool conversation, let's discuss how you go about finding a preschool in the first place!

Things we aren't using in our search:

Preschool Fairs
We did this a few years ago when we were going through the process with Emily and found it to be a waste of time as 1) there were very few schools in our desired location with booths at the fair, 2) it was loud and crowded and difficult to navigate, and 3) all we got when we did speak to a school's representative was examples of the kids' artwork, their daily schedule, and a packet on their enrollment process (fees, deposit, wait list information, tuition schedule), which we could've gotten at home from their website.

Online reviews from School sites, Yelp, local Parent Networks
Reviews aren't always reliable nor relevant as priorities very greatly within families and some things are circumstantial. Plus, let's face it: parents can be irrational, they tend to exaggerate, and some are down right crazy! The few reviews I have found are 10 years or more out of date so, this was a dead end for us.

What we are doing is contacting just about every preschool in our desired area and reading through their websites to determine if:

1. They offer the hours we are looking for (mornings only, between 8:00am-12:00pm)
2. They are within our budget

Then, we are setting up a time to tour and speak with the Director and ask some questions about things like curriculum, discipline policy, potty-training philosophy and requirements, parental involvement, annual calendar, and sick policy, amongst others.

Tours taken so far:

First Preschool Tour

We had a tour of another Preschool we are interested in this morning and it went wonderfully!

I purposely left Nolan at home with David so I could focus on asking questions and observing without distraction. I highly recommend doing this! You can always call and ask to drop in another day with your child, which I plan to do next month when Gram is visiting. :)

Some key points that made this school really stick with me include:

  • They follow our school district's calendar so, Nolan won't be in school when Emily is not, including summer, which is most important to me as we travel a lot in the summer time and I hate the idea of paying to hold a spot when Nolan won't be there. They do offer a weekly camps all summer long that you can choose to send your preschooler to, which I love for those weeks Emily will be away at camp.
  • They are a Christian-based parent Co-Op with a maximum of 15 kids, age 2 years 9 months through 6 years old. We are Christians and love the idea of Nolan getting an early introduction to some of the age-appropriate stories in the bible. They will go through school knowing Jesus loves them and it's important to love each other. In order to keep costs super low (half of what our first preschool charges!), this school only teaches preschool. It's not a full-service, extended care facility. Parents are also asked to bring snack once per month. In addition, in the months of January through June, parents are asking to attend two fieldtrips (for safety!) and work one day per month in the classroom. I really love this as it allows me to be part of Nolan's preschool experience but doesn't ask so much of me that I feel like he's never away from me, as with traditional Co-Ops.
  • Potty-training is not a requirement to attend this school. The Director and Teachers don't believe being potty-trained should be the measure against whether a child is ready for preschool. I really love this! 
  • I can choose which days Nolan attends preschool and there's no minimum nor maximum that's based on his age. If he loves it and is thriving, he can go 5 days a week. If he's just too overwhelmed, he can go one day. 
  • They offer a longer day two days per week where the children can stay until 2:45pm for $15 extra dollars per day. Really helps parents who have appointments or want to volunteer at their older child's school. You can add this any week you want at the last minute if you want.
  • Their facility was clean, well-organized, and decorated with all the kids' artwork just as my house is. The kids were having fun playing on the rug, some were doing the art project, and some were being read to. The Director was very clear that it's important to let the children develop on their own timeline and not force a child to participate where they aren't interested. They are having a brand new playground being built this year, which is so exciting!
  • The Director was so lovely. She answered every one of my questions with great detail. She was easy to talk to, like a friend, and it was really nice to see her speak with the parents that rolled in for the day, some with happy kids ready to start school and another who was a complete mess from an earlier battle of shoes. The Director knew exactly how to help that child transition into school and it was clear the parent was confident and comfortable with the Director taking over.
  • They do field trips and have pageants, just like the preschool/daycare I went to. On my gosh, do I have amazing memories of going to Nonie's! :) This really brought a huge smile to my face. I love the idea that Nolan will get to experience so much of the world so early in life and the thought of him dressed up like one of the three wisemen in the Christmas pageant nearly crippled me with delight.
  • The Director knows her kids and their families really well. Open and honest communication about struggles at home on a daily basis is highly encouraged. She's very confident in identifying any hot buttons with the children and is quick to redirect them when she sees things going in a negative direction. Time-outs are only used to calm a child who needs some space and comfort from an adult, not as a discipline technique. I appreciate this so much!
The main reason we choose to look at this school is because a very good friend of mine, whom I love and respect as a person and a parent, sent her child here and raved about things I found really important to David and I. Things we wanted most for our child in preschool. This might move to #1 as far as how to choose the right preschool.

The next school we are looking at also made it to our list from a great friends' recommendation. I have a tour scheduled with them in a few weeks.

Stay tuned for how it goes and how we end up choosing a preschool!


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