It’s that time of year again, preschool registration! We Smarties always need to remind each other of key dates like this. The planning process for the 2010-11 Weekday School Year is underway, so if you’re new to this process, get motivated! Most preschools start accepting applications in mid-January and mail out their acceptance letters in February/March. If you are a first-time mom and you have a child turning one year by the summer, then this applies to you. Most preschools have toddler classes for children turning one by August and go up to transitional kindergarten, which I can’t speak highly enough if your child has a summer birthday.
Preschool is not just for stay-at-home moms to run out and play tennis after a bon-bon feast (yeah, right, that’s exactly what we SAHM’s do!). Seriously, preschool is for the good of the children and mommy too! School provides a structured, loving, educational environment that improves socialization, self confidence and learning ability. And moms need a break sometimes – there I said it! Yep, sometimes I just want a block of time when I don’t have twin monkeys hanging off each leg and I can sneak a run in without having to push 70 lbs in my BOB! Or go to the grocery store without the extra bags of Oreos or mystery Depends undergarments that always seem to make it in my cart and completely humiliate me at checkout! Preschool might also be a good option for working moms who need to get creative with their child care situation. Sometimes you can balance a part-time nanny and preschool and come out ahead than if you put your child in traditional daycare. Regardless of your reason, I can assure you it will be one of your best decisions in the early years.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m going to link to Charlotte Parent’s impressive comprehensive directory of preschools in Charlotte and surrounding areas. As you begin your search, I would recommend you start by looking at some of the weekday schools close by your home. There is something to be said about a neighborhood school, even at this young age. Plus, you don’t want to spend half of your free time driving to and from, which is usually a skimpy three hour stretch, max anyway. Make sure you interview the director, teachers and take a tour of the school. All of the schools will be happy to accommodate you and will look forward to the chance to sell their school to you. Make sure you inquire about licensing and rating information provided by the North Carolina Division of Child Development of the Department of Health and Human Services. Look at the teacher/student ratio and the curriculum. Many schools offer foreign languages which I think is huge. Most importantly, ask around. Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. – word of mouth is one of the most important references you can get. Make sure you get on a few waiting lists because these schools fill up quickly. This year might be easier to get in than in years past due to the economy, but it’s best to be safe and apply to more than one.
I would love for each of you to take the time to leave a comment about your preschool, why you love it, what your experience has been there and a web address. This is your chance to toot your school’s horn! I’m sure your director will be extremely thankful! Good luck with your decisions!