Picking a preschool may seem easy, especially given that it's for 3-year-olds, but there is more to it than one may think. There are a number of different preschools that follow specific philosophies geared towards a certain discipline.
For example, if you're child needs a lot of structure or if they're particularly artsy or independent, there are different preschools that may fit their personality better - thereby giving them a better experience.
There are a number of preschools that are influenced by particular philosophies - here are some of the most common or well-known, according to Arond:
Children do independent activities Classes are kids ages 3-5 and olders help youngers Most academic of developmental programs
Stress learning through play Classes have half-dozen play areas Kids are grouped with others; their own activities are more teacher-directed Early reading and writing programs include kids looking at pictures and making up stories.
Believe kids must first gain a sense of their physical presence through play and art before developing academic skills
Creativity is highly valued Music plays an integral role in curriculum
Based on children learning through exploration and creativity Teachers are "guides" rather than instructors. They observe and ask questions and videotape and document conversations Teachers use documentation in curriculum-planning to pick projects kids will be enthusiastic about.
Creme De La Crème:
Children wear uniforms Features "structured academics" at age 2 Days are divided into half-hour units of reading, math, computers and foreign language Teachers must adhere to the curriculum
In addition to the above types of schools, it's also quite common to find preschools where you don't hear these specific terms overall, but they may have Montesorri-trained teachers, or they'll say they're Piaget-influenced. Even if the school doesn't strictly adhere to one of these philosophies. You actually want the teachers and heads of schools to be trained in these philosophies, and even more than one, so they all have something to add to a classroom.
For more information, read Picking The Right Preschool from child.com.