This is the book I wanted to read when I started looking for a preschool for my son, Josh. Unfortunately, it hadn't been written yet.
Like any parents, my husband and I wanted to find the best place for our son-a preschool that would nurture him, teach him, and be a good fit for our family. But I quickly learned that this would not be as easy as it seemed. I was overwhelmed by the options-when I was growing up, kids just went to the nursery school closest to home, if they went at all. I didn't know where to begin to find the best preschools in my neighborhood or what characteristics defined a high-quality program. Terms like Montessori, child centered, and co-op were foreign to me. School tours gave me a clearer picture of what each school was like, but I wasn't sure what I should be on the lookout for or what questions I should ask to see if it was the right place for us.
What I also discovered about the preschool process was that there is no process. Unlike college or graduate school, there are no standard time lines or admissions procedures that all nursery schools follow-and very few resources to help parents navigate the process. So I went to preschool fairs, attended seminars and panel discussions, read books and articles, and had countless conversations with other parents who had been through the process. I pored over school websites and brochures, toured schools, and filled out endless applications. For a few programs, I brought Josh in to be observed at "playdates" and wrote essays describing his strengths and challenges.
In the end, we were fortunate, and Josh was accepted to our first-choice school-even though, as we learned later, there were over two hundred applications for thirty spots (most of which went to siblings of students already at the school).
After helping countless other parents navigate their preschool search on the basis of my experience, my research, and the advice I'd received, I decided to pull all of the information together into a book to benefit other parents of soon-to-be preschoolers. I hope to demystify the process for those who don't have access to all the mommy lore from knowledgeable friends and family.
Whether the preschools in your town enroll every child that signs up or are so competitive that they can accept only a few applicants each year, this book will give you the tools you need to find, research, and choose the best programs for your child. You will learn about the different types of preschool philosophies and know how to put your best foot forward when applying to selective schools that can't admit every applicant. This book will also give you practical advice on how to help your child prepare for his or her first preschool experience and have a great first day.
Preschool is the first step in your child's educational journey. I hope that with this book as your guide, you'll be able to find the school that works best for your family, and you will start your child on a lifelong adventure of learning and discovery.