Last December, I had the very rare opportunity to spend some time thoroughly cleaning my house. I don’t know what it was about that day, but the stars were all aligned. My son was playing peacefully by himself, quietly moving from room to room with me, and he also napped for an unusually long time. I remember thinking “How awesome would it be to just have a day like this where I could get things done?” In that moment, the skies opened up and the heavens began speaking to me. . . Hello! It’s called Mother’s Day Out!
By that afternoon, I began making phone calls to local preschools fully expecting to speak with a handful of eager directors just ready to open their arms to my sweet baby boy. I’m a new mom. Can you tell? After being transferred from voicemail to voicemail, I finally got a hold of an elderly woman who very nicely told me “waiting lists start in February.” Did she just laugh at me?
What I found out that day is that to a new mom, the Preschool Game is a foreign one; especially when you’re new to the area or don’t have a lot of friends with children around the same age. I feel like it was pure luck I had this naïve experience because come August, I would have been that mom knocking on the door of preschool like a scene from an old Mervyn’s commercial: Open, Open, Open.
One of the benefits of living in Dallas is that weren’t not limited in our preschool options. With such diverse communities, we have the unique ability to choose when, where and how we want our children to learn. You might see a Montessori, Reggio Emilia, or Waldrof based school all within a few miles of each other. Or maybe you’re the type of parent who wants your child in a faith-based program, immersed in another language, or gym for a classroom. The combinations are endless!
So, where do you start?
First, start now! Enrollment at most schools begins in February for the Fall. Many fill up quickly, so begin contacting schools as soon as you’re able.
How do I find the right school?
One option: Google.
Google will give you basic information about almost all preschools in your area; where they’re located, reviews, and ratings. But, be careful! Often schools can show up as having 5 star ratings or as being labeled the “best,” but don’t put too much stock into this until you’ve researched the school for yourself. Sometimes schools can be placed with these ratings through paid advertisements or with a small number of reviews. Always check the sources, and use this information as a way of guiding you; not making your decision for you.
Another option: Check for Accreditation.
As a former educator, curriculum and structure is important to me. So, I also do a search using the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Educational Programs (NAC) or National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) database. When a preschool is accredited, they’ve passed a rigorous process of testing against very specific standards such as does the school maintain positive relationships among adults, children, and the community? Is there consistent curriculum and effective teaching and assessment? Is there effective school leadership? Don’t be alarmed if a preschool isn’t accredited. Some schools may have simply chosen not to go through the process; however, as a parent, it’s one way of reassuring that your concerns and questions about a school have already been evaluated.
The expert option: Word of Mouth.
Being new to preschools, I also rely on the stories and experiences of friends and family members. There’s nothing more valuable than hearing from parents who’ve sent their children to a preschool or Mother’s Day Out program you’re looking into; I feel listened to by the staff, the teachers are well educated, the school loves my child, etc.
Which is why Dallas Moms Blog is now opening up the discussion to you!
If you’re a mom who’s had preschool experience in Dallas and/or surrounding cities, we want to hear from you! Help new moms, like myself, get to know the options in their area!
Why did you choose your preschool? Did you have many options in your area of Dallas? What was your waiting/registration experience like?
If you’re new to the area or new to the preschool experience, here’s your chance to ask questions and get some answers! Simply leave a comment below, and with a little help from our blogger community, you’ll find out what you need to know.
So. . .what are you waiting for?
Let the discussion begin!