Picking the perfect preschool may not guarantee your child is later accepted at Harvard. However, the right choice can determine if your child is ready for kindergarten and elementary school.

Contributed by Claire Haas of Kiddie Academy

How can you be sure that a preschool you're considering is the best fit for your child?

No longer just a place to play, preschool is now an important part of a child's education, building a foundation for developing skills that lead to later school success.

According to Claire Haas, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, "The expectations for school readiness have shifted. Before, kindergarten was the precursor to formal education, it now marks the beginning of a child's school career with specific state requirements and standards. As a result, the stakes for being ready for school are higher than ever. As such, we've evolved our preschool curriculum to encompass academics, as well as developmental and social expectations."

Here's a handy checklist

Claire Haas of Kiddie Academy offers the following questions to ask when choosing a preschool for your child:

  • Does the preschool program provide curriculum-based education and enrichment activities? Developmentally-appropriate academic programs prepare children to be lifelong learners.
  • How does the facility help to prepare your child to meet state standards?
  • Evaluate the arts program -- Are the projects child-driven? Are students given materials with freedom to be creative in constructing the end result, thus expressing themselves through art?
  • Review the physical fitness plan -- Does the center provide activities that focus on health and fitness?
  • How is technology integrated into the lessons? Today's best preschools offer multiple ways to utilize computers and technology to enhance learning experiences.
  • Does the center offer your child a variety of ways to interact with other children throughout the day? By exposing your child to a range of participation formats -- independent, small group and large group -- your child becomes a more well-rounded individual, better prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

If you're choosing between several options, take note of how each preschool handles each of these crucial topics. Once you've gathered all the data, you'll have what you need to make an informed decision that's right for your family.

>> For more education and parenting tips, visit the Kiddie Academy Family blog at: www.kafamilyessentials.com. For more information on Kiddie Academy's education-based child care, visit www.kiddieacademy.com.

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