January 24, 2012

Preschool Enrollment Time is Here!

Yes, it seems like we just began the school year but believe it or not, February is quickly approaching. Do you know what that means for Charlotte moms with little ones? Preschool enrollment time!

Oh, how I love thee, preschool!

Now I know for some of you the thought of preschool enrollment makes your palms sweaty and your heart race. Is my child too young? How do I know if a certain preschool is the right fit? Does preschool even matter? Am I a bad mom if I send my toddler somewhere without me for an entire morning??

Relax. While no one can answer every question for you, rest assured that most of us have had the same thoughts, which means most preschool directors and teachers understand your worries and will do everything in their power to answer your questions to help you make the right decision for your child. I’ve found these wonderful women (and I say women because I’ve never met a male preschool teacher but I’m sure there are some out there!) are the most loving, caring souls in all the land.

Here are some things to think about as you look around (thank you, Parents magazine!):

1) Do teachers stick around?

2) What’s the class size?

3) What’s a typical day like?

4) How is discipline handled?

5) What are your instincts telling you?

While preschool isn’t the right choice for everyone, it was definitely the right choice for us. I remember touring several different preschools (proximity to our house was key for me!) and instantly feeling at ease at the preschool we chose (OK, it could be because I am an alumni of the preschool but it was really the director at our school who nailed it for me! I still think she is in the Top Ten of The Most Wonderful People I’ve Ever Met!).

My kids have always loved going to preschool where they’ve developed friendships and gained skills beyond what I could teach them at our kitchen table. The sweet songs, artwork made from their little feet and hands, Christmas programs, and end-of-the-year-sing-a-longs are treasures for me and my husband.

Many preschools start at the toddler age (some have a “Must Be Walking” policy). I know many moms who wait until their child is two or three to begin preschool, which is just right for some families. You know your child best, and, in my opinion, it makes no difference what age you start.

We are so lucky to have so many awesome, affordable preschools in Charlotte (my friends in NYC and Chicago are astonished by how “cheap” they are!), but sometimes having so much variety can make the decision even more daunting. Ask around – at the park, the Target check out line, the food court. Most moms love to talk about their preschool. Once you’ve gotten a list together, call the school to ask if group tours are given or if they prefer one-on-one tours.

My advice is to hit the playground on a pretty afternoon around 1 pm –many parents stay after pick-up to play. It’s a great way to get a feel for the school and ask questions (plus lots of the preschool parks are some of the best in town!)!

And just remember: preschool is not “one step away from college.” A loving, caring, and safe environment makes most children thrive, and you might just find that three hours of time “off” two or three times a week makes you a better Smarty Mom!

Check out CSP’s past articles about preschool enrollment (2011, 2008). We’ve done lots of research for you! And feel free to brag about your preschool in the comments below – we’d love to hear your thoughts!

11 Responses

  1. the hitting the playground advice is real smart :)

  2. Andrea says:

    There are lots of great preschools out there. My child has been going to Carmel Presbyterian for 3 years and we have been VERY happy there. There is hardly any turnover in staff (if any) from year to year and my child comes home happy every day!

  3. Kelly says:

    Carmel Prebyterian has been wonderful for us too! My two daughters went through the program there and thrived in Kindergarten. There were always so many great things going on that they always wanted to go to school. Love it!

  4. Ashley says:

    Just had my last teacher conference yesterday at Carmel Pres. After 8 or so years there I am sad to have my last child leaving such a great preschool. His current teachers had all 3 of my kids and really knew and loved each of them. It’s a school with incredible teachers who value children and the importance of play.

  5. Birgit says:

    Carmel Presbyterian Weekday School offers all you can ask for. The teachers are caring, they love the children and the school. I have not seen a teacher leave in 4 years and know that most of them have been at Carmel for a long time. My daughter, who is in pre-school now, asks to visit Carmel Presbyterian School every time she is out for a teacher work day so she can say hello to her former pre-school teachers. My little one, who can be a little “devil” at home sometimes, is apparently as sweet as a lamb in school. Hat’s off to the teachers who really do great with the children. The class size is between 12 and 15. The days are filled with arts and craft, reading, learning numbers, letters, days of the week, seasons etc. and spending time on the play ground which is awesome btw since they have 3 of them. They are age appropriate and everything is fenced in. We love going there on the weekends too.

  6. ks says:

    Cheryl – you mentioned you love your preschool. Which one is it? I’m in the midst of touring what seems to be 100 of them now and am always looking for suggestions!

  7. Cheryl says:

    Too funny! Hope to see you there in the fall!

  8. Manisha Siingh says:

    My son is been going to Carmel presbeterian weekday school for almost 4 yrs now and there hasn’t been one day when I ve seen him unhappy ! The teachers are very very co-operative , non judgmental and always with big smiles. I think kids feel very comfortable there . Also the class rooms are very beautiful and they have a very safe playground . I would anyday recommend CPWS .

  9. Karen Little says:

    We go to Carmel Presbyterian Weekday School. We have 4 children who are now 8.7.6.and 5 years old. We have been there since are oldest was 2. I think that makes me on our 6th year. We have loved every second of it. The teachers love on your children like they were their own. I can’t believe we only have 1 year left. We will miss them when we are through!

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