What Makes a Good Preschool? How to Evaluate Early Childhood Programs

What Should Parents Look For When Choosing a Preschool, Kindergarten, or Child Care Center?

Buckets of school supplies desks
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Every parent is on the quest to find a “good preschool”, but what does “good” really mean?

NAEYC – The National Association for the Education of Young Children – has set 10 quality standards for early childhood programs.  NAEYC is the nation’s leading organization for accreditation of preschools, kindergartens, and day care centers and also serves as the leading professional organization of early childhood educators.

Understanding the NAEYC standards can help guide parents to find high-quality preschool, kindergarten, and child care centers for their children.

What to Look for in Early Childhood Education Programs

1. Quality Relationships Between Children, Teachers, Caregivers

Parents should observe how children interact with each other and how teachers respond to children’s needs.
Preschool teacher working with african american toddler, little boy, and girl

2. Rich Curriculum

Children should be provided a variety of developmentally appropriate  learning opportunities, supporting all aspects of their development —  academic, social, emotional, and physical.  Curriculum should be planned and systematically implemented.

3. Appropriate Teaching

Teachers should support of a variety of learning styles and developmental needs of children.

4. Assessment of Child Progress

Schools should evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and communicate routinely with parents.

5. Health Conscious

Policies should be implemented to ensure the healthy and safety of children including school cleaning, equipment safety, and nutrition.

Toddler having snack at day care center in Norway
Photo Photos from SkiStar|CC

6. Competent Preschool Teachers and Caregivers

Teachers should have appropriate educational training, professional experience, and on-going professional development opportunities.

7. Family Involvement

Schools and parents should work together to support a child’s development both at home and school. All families should feel welcomed and included in the school community.

Dad using tools with daughters
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8. Community Relationships

Schools should help connect families and children to the broader community by fostering relationships with local resources such as libraries, museums, and non-profit organizations.

9. Physical Environment

Children need a safe, well-maintained environment for learning.

Preschoolers riding toy vehicles at a Child Development Center Supported by Army Family Covenant initiatives
Photo The U.S. Army|CC

10. Leadership and Management

Effective schools need strong leadership with sound financial and organizational management.

Read More…

The 10 NAEYC Program Standards from the The National Association for the Education of Young Children, NAEYC for Families Website