How do Parents choose a Preschool?

My friend called the other day to tell me he had gotten a new car, and of course I asked the make and model.  Then I asked why he selected that specific car.  The answer… it was blue.


This never actually happened, but the story does contain a certain truth.  Sometimes people make choices that don’t make any sense, such as choosing a car based on its color rather than its safety rating, gas mileage, or ability to haul items.


In speaking with parents, and researching online I am often troubled by the reasons behind selecting a particular preschool over another.  In my personal experience it often has more to do with location and personality than pedagogical issues or certifications.  I am concerned parents are buying blue cars.  How do we convince parents that the Montessori method is superior when this may not even be a consideration, like explaining a car’s flex fuel capability when the buyer is asking if the hubcaps can be changed?


Also, if our pedagogy is the thing that sets us apart, and choice of preschool is nominally affected by this, we need to look at satisfying these other parental needs so that pedagogy can become a deciding factor.  A real world example of this is continued choice of gasoline cars over purely electric cars.  Storage methods are not efficient enough for electric cars yet, and we lack the infrastructure to deliver electricity to cars (the equivalent of gas stations).  If these to problems were solved, I have little doubt most people would choose an electric car.  
I found this quote in an article in the Mankato Freepress Newspaper, 
“Research says that many parents look for the least expensive and the closest to home, which isn’t the best facility,” Good said, indicating a new pilot program, Parent Aware, launched in August in Blue Earth and Nicollet counties, can provide answers for parents who are unfamiliar with the options available.
I have since contacted Dr. Linda Good who has been kind enough to share the titles of several studies regarding parent selection of preschools.  As soon as I obtain copies of these studies I will share more specific information here.


In the mean time, consider The website enables parents to input zip code, or home address, or even home and work address to find a preschool that is convenient for their commute.  


I think it is great to have a convenient preschool, but if parents are limiting their choices first by location, and then examining factors such as pedagogy second, we need to think carefully about school locations.  Maybe schools need to be located near large employers, or in residential neighborhoods, or along high traffic corridors.  This sit he kind of small change that might lead to a Tipping Point.


You may also be intrigued reading a few  parent comments regarding preschool selection.  I have highlighted in red a few comments I found particularly interesting.  Some are criteria I personally consider trivial, while others are considerations I had not ever considered…

I visited two (Little Bits and Dayspring). I made a chart of all tuition options including registration fees and different number of days per week/half day vs full day.            The deciding factor for choosing the one I did (Little Bits) was that they were willing to heat the kids lunches up in the microwave while the other one (Dayspring) wouldn’t

Little Bits was the least expensive one as well. What a bonus!!!


Some decision factors were location to home and the other schools, cleanliness, teacher/student ratio, 
being able to show up unannouncedbut most importantly was the interaction between the teachers and my child while we were looking and how inviting they were to her. Some schools we looked at just let her stand off to the side and watch, where others tried to include her right off the bat. I found that the ones that were more inviting wanted her there even though we were not signed up yet.

Location was part of it. It was less than three miles from my house and in the University community where my husband worked.            School’s philosophy was part of it as my daughter needed a strong learning environment. 

Our decision was based on what we saw such as, a state certified teachers, a lot of tricycles for children to ridestudents’ arts works displayed around ( not teachers or mothers), a lot of books and learning materials, students’ smiling faces, busy children, playground,and the professionalism of the faculty and director. 

TJ, it might be different for you since your daughter has already been in daycare. In my situation, preschool was my son’s first “group” exposure to other children.
 I just wanted a nurturing enviroment that would provide an opportunity to develop good social skills, and the fact that the preschool was affiliated with our church was a real plus, since it was nearby, and I already “knew” their philosophy.           

I chose the right preschool by looking around and observing. I wanted to know what did they have to offer my child. What kind of things will they be doing with my child. Ultimate goal would be to prepare my child for kindergarden, and for him/her to be safe.  

When entering into the daycare you and your child should feel comfortable. Go with your motherly instincts. Yes it will be hard but our children will enjoy being with other children. The waiting lists are awful, but don’t give up! Most of the time people on the list don’t need it anymore, and the list gets shorter.



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