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Ready for Kindergarten? How to Select a Preschool in Frisco

All photos are courtesy of St. Philips Preschool in Frisco.  

If you’re a first-time parent, you should know that February is about the time to register your child for preschool next fall. I know it seems early, but spots fill very quickly.

Don’t be like me and decide in late May that you think it might be nice for your little one to enjoy some socialization in a preschool next school year.

I learned that by waiting too long, my top choices for preschool were full and already had a lengthy waitlist. Do yourself a favor and start talking to friends, researching, and touring schools now for the 2018-19 school year. You’ll find many are already hosting open houses and offering early registration for new families.

So now that you know a bit more about the registration timeline…

What should you be looking for in a preschool?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a preschool. First, check off the basics.

Once you’ve narrowed your list by evaluating these basics, dive deeper into the structure, curriculum, and philosophy of the school. Of course, there are a lot of factors to consider here, too. One in particular which is top of mind for many families is Kindergarten Readiness.

What is Kindergarten Readiness?

This term means different things to different people, but basically, we’re talking about assessing how well a preschool will prepare your child to thrive in a kindergarten classroom.

One thing I consistently hear from parents is the surprise over how different kindergarten is now, compared to when they were in school. The expectations are much higher, and the days may even be longer, as years ago kids often attended for only a half day.

Is Kinder the new first grade?

Many people say ‘kinder is the new first grade.’ There’s plenty of debate as to whether or not this is a good thing, but the fact remains it’s the reality. The rigorous curriculum parents are observing in kinder is based on statewide standards. Many Frisco ISD teachers recognize these expectations are high and they work hard to include plenty of fun in the classroom with creative “brain breaks” throughout the day.

What skills are needed for Kindergarten?

To get a better idea of what Kindergarten Readiness looks like from a teacher’s perspective, I spoke with my son’s sweet former kindergarten teacher, Miss Hytchye. Based on her experience, the primary academic expectations are:

That’s a pretty tall order, right? I think our parents were proud if they just sent us to kindergarten knowing not to eat paste!

If you choose not to send your child to preschool, of course, you can work on these skills at home. But if you’re looking for a preschool, why not evaluate them with these things in mind?

How do you evaluate a preschool?

When you’re researching schools, you may wish to go on a tour and have some time to chat with the director. Allow me to help you make the most of that time by knowing what to look for and what to ask. I sat down with Autumn Chavez, Director of St. Philip’s Preschool in Frisco. Here are the areas Mrs. Chavez recommends that parents consider:

Teachers

More and more research is showing us that the most critical period of brain development is during the first five years of life. With this in mind, your child’s preschool teachers might actually be the most important teachers they ever have!

Curriculum

Is there a Transitional Kindergarten program available at the school?

Transitional Kindergarten (sometimes called a Bridge) is a program some parents choose for their child after his or her four-year-old pre-k year if they feel they just aren’t quite ready for kindergarten. This is often a class for those children with summer birthdays who barely make the cut-off for kindergarten. Mrs. Chavez says she sees that age getting pushed back, sometimes to include kids with April or even March birthdays.

Transitional Kindergarten is not just for kids with late summer birthdays,” says Autumn. “It can also be a fit for those who just aren’t ready academically. It’s so important for a child to feel successful with their first experience in kindergarten. Sometimes it helps to give them a buffer year. It allows them to develop a few more tools to take with them to kinder and can help with self-confidence.”

You’ll want to ask the preschool how well the school’s Pre-K and or Transitional Kinder (TK) program is aligned with FISD. For example, in the St. Philip’s TK program, they take the first semester of FISD’s kindergarten curriculum and stretch it out over the entire school year.

While this can all feel very overwhelming, rest assured that there are many fantastic preschools in our area. While talking to fellow parents and researching online is beneficial, knowing which things are important to you will help you evaluate schools accordingly and find one that is just the right fit for your family.

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