You cried when he first said "mama" and when he took his first steps. Now you need to get the tissues ready for his first day of preschool. Before you decide to send your toddler off to socialize and get covered in blue finger paint, ensure that the preschool you select meets criteria recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
A good preschool encourages an active learning environment. Children should be constantly involved in activities and not parked in front of a TV. Toddlers should also not be expected to sit quietly for extended periods because they have short attention spans and sitting too long can encourage poor behavior from boredom. Activities should be a mixture of working with different materials and interacting with other children.
The activities each day should not be the same ones. A good preschool has a variety of activities available to suit each child's personality and interests. The children should be split into groups to allow more individual attention for each activity. Your toddler shouldn't have to wait 20 minutes to get help making a turkey out of tracing his hand prints for Thanksgiving.
During activities, children should be learning life skills that will be useful to them as they grow. In everyday activities, teachers should help your toddler learn the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors. The learning environment should not be focused on filling out worksheets on how to identify different animals or colors. It's better for children to learn actively to encourage participation and interest.
Outdoor play should be on every preschool's daily activity list. As long as the weather permits, children need to be able to run, climb and explore outside in the fresh air. No amount of indoor activity can compare to keeping active outdoors.
The curriculum at a preschool needs to cater to multiple children. All children do not learn at the same pace or in the same way. An ideal environment splits children into groups based on their strengths and weaknesses to create the best possible learning environment.
Choose a preschool that is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. These preschools go through rigorous criteria to ensure they meet the standards established by the association.
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