With the increasing number of schooling options that can include homeschool, public, charter, or private school, finding the right fit for your child and family takes some serious thought. The following tips will guide you through the decision making process and help you discover what is important to you and your family.
Each child is different and while others might have an idea about the “best school,” you and your family know the most about your child and what will work for your family. For some children, going to a school that encourages learning at your own pace and a multi-age classroom (such as a well established Montessori school) will help them reach their full potential. For other children, a small teacher to child ratio would best help guide their attention.
If you know that you want your child to attend school outside of your home, then start this process early. Many waitlists fill up in February, and some are up to a year long for schools that are in high demand in San Antonio.
- What are the teaching practices/curriculum? Does the discussion make sense to you? Does it feel too rigid or too flexible?
- What types of scheduling (days/times) do they offer? Do they offer part-time options (e.g., MWF 9am-12pm)? Do they offer full time? What constitutes full-time (e.g., M-F 8 am-5 pm, M-F 8am-3pm)? If they are located within a religious institution, which days/times are they open/closed?
- What is the cost of tuition/fees? Do they offer reduced fees for additional children or scholarships/reduced tuition? If the tuition seems out of reach, research possible reduced fees online or call to inquire about possibilities. Do you pay for days that you don’t attend? How much is extended care? What other fees are there (e.g., registration, supplies)?
- What is the student/teacher ratio?
- What are their beliefs on immunization practices? If you are on an alternate vaccination schedule that may include some or no immunizations for religious or health reasons, you will want to look/ask about their practices. Often this information will not be on the website and will need to be assessed through a talk with the director as the person answering the phone may not have the full answer. If you have a legitimate reason that is documented through appropriate forms, such as through the Texas Department of Health, exemption form, then you are legally allowed to attend any public school without all or any immunizations.
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- How are the children treated/talked about? How are the teachers interacting with the children? Lots/minimal interaction? Who is doing the talking? What type of language is used with the children (e.g., guiding, directing, commanding, respectful)?
- What is the physical layout of the classrooms/school? Do the supplies/toys appear to be well taken of and/or new? Is there room for children to move/run around?
- What is the outdoor environment? Are there multiple areas to play? Are there natural areas for children to play in? Is the equipment and/or grounds well taken care of?
By taking these two steps and answering some questions, you can now make an informed decision about the fit of a particular school for your child and family.
For some great resources on where to start the process of locating a preschool near downtown San Antonio, here are a few places to start:
- Charter schools – While there are not many charter schools, Inga Munsinger Cotton is a go-to reference at www.sachartermoms.com
- Montessori Schools – Monte Vista Montessori, Paul’s Montessori
- Private preschools (listed alphabetically) – Acorn School, The Circle School, Discovery School, Grace Lutheran Church Day School, Laurel Heights Weekday School, University Presbyterian Children’s Center
- Public schools – The San Antonio city government through PreK for SA lists and details the various options for preschoolers.
- If you want to do your own search of locations, you can search this site to locate those that are registered with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
*Featured/top image: The Circle School garden. Courtesy photo.