I can hardly believe that the twins are going to be 3 next week! Walking, talking, running and playing they are truly little people now with their own distinct personalities! Luke is very sensitive, quiet and observant, while Chloe is more robust, energetic and fiesty! They are both cute as buttons of course and are very good kids.
With the approach of their third birthday it was time for me to start considering preschool for them. I know some people don’t believe in preschool -and they say why should I pay to have my kids go do crafts and games when I can do that with them. The reality is, for most of us, do we actually do the crafts and games on a regular basis? The other thing is is preschool is more than crafts and games and has a variety of benefits for your child from promoting social and emotional development, learning to share, making choices, learning how to function in a structured environment and preparing them for kindergarten. And these days there is lots of choice in what preschool you can register your child in.
When we registered Matthew in preschool I just went down to the local one closest to us, looked around, felt happy and registered him. Only now do I wish that I had looked around a bit more and learned more about the different preschools that were available as I feel that there was a better choice and fit for Matthew due to his learning ability. But hind sight is 20/20 and he was my first child etc. So this time, not only did I know when to start looking/ registering for preschool, I took my time checking out a few preschools in the area and touring them all.
I kept it reasonable and looked at 3; and after googling preschools in Calgary selected Leap n Learn, Montessori and Apple Tree to go and take a look. Luke and Chloe got to come with me each time which I feel is very valuable when selecting a preschool for your child. It is important to see how they take to the environment and if they like it there. Also children have a strong intuitive sense, so if the energy is off or negative then they would pick up on and display it right away.
Luke discovering animals
Preschools have really changed now too with many offering 3 hour classes up to 5 days a week. You now provide your own snacks for your children, where as the school used to provide this, but I believe that with the growing number of people requiring special dietary needs that this was the best way to address this. There are specialty programs such as French Immersion or a strong music component, some are more academic (believe it or not) while others are your traditional beginning learning and getting them ready for school. All have their benefits and all have their place and it all depends on the child. The best fit for one child may not be the best fit for another.
One of the things I really liked about Matthew’s preschool is that we could walk to it. I found this to be a great benefit and we walked all through the winter to and from. Being more particular this time, this was one benefit I had to give up if I truly wanted the best fit.
Leap n Learn has a great program, they offer 3 hour classes and a French Immersion option. They also have a great music component.
Montessori is a great program for children who are self motivated and individual learners. The montessori approach is a wonderful one but is not for all children. Their philosophy is that they provide a solid foundation for children as they enter kindergarten. They do not offer music per se, and only a little bit of beginner French once a week.
Apple Tree is what I would describe as a regular preschool. Though it has been voted one of the best preschools in Calgary by Calgary’s Child, I did not find that it stood out. It was just a regular preschool in what I considered a fairly stark environment actually. I don’t believe French was offered here at all. But they do have Sonata Yamaha School of Music come in to do their music component.
Needless to say we did not go with Apple Tree, though it was the one we could walk to! For us I felt that Leap n Learn and Montessori were the best choices, and were very close, but ended up choosing Montessori. I felt that it would be a better fit for Chloe especially and that Luke could thrive there as well. I did though choose the Montessori preschool that was a little bit further from us – as there was one 5 minutes away. I caution parents if you are going to do Montessori to still check out a few Montessori schools. Though the program and philosophy is the same, with all teachers being Montessori trained, they are individually owned and run, so vary slightly. We toured the one closest to us and though outwardly there was nothing wrong with it, it was not as bright as the other one, the energy was not as good and overall something just did not feel right. So I went with my gut and we are going a little bit further (15 minute drive) to one that I like and feel better about.
Choosing a preschool is very much an individual decision and I would strongly encourage you to tour a few of them so that you can see and make an informed decision that best fits your child. In summary here are things to keep in mind when choosing a preschool:
- Tour more than one school
- Tour each school – make an appointment where you can go and see the rooms, talk with someone about the program and able to answer any questions you have. Make sure that the kids can come with you
- Consider things like fees, monthly and registration, if there is a discount for a second child, etc.
- Is it clean? Bright and with natural light. Do you get a good vibe there? do the kids like it?
- What options do they have? 2 or 3 hour programs? French or other language, music
- Teacher training – what are their requirements for staff/teachers
Regardless of which preschool you choose for your child it should be one that is the best fit for you and your child. Make sure they are ready, gather all the information you need to make a sound informed decision, use a little intuition and take your time. Don’t dilly dally but don’t rush into it either. You want your child to have a positive experience in a positive environment.
Are you planning on registering your child for preschool this fall? What preschool have you chosen? Please comment and share below.