8 Tips to Pick a Preschool in San Antonio

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The Circle School garden. Courtesy photo.

The Circle School garden. Courtesy photo.

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.

Butterfly science at The Acorn School. Courtesy photo.

Butterfly science at The Acorn School. Courtesy photo.

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.

Research:

  1. What are the teaching practices/curriculum? Does the discussion make sense to you? Does it feel too rigid or too flexible?
  2. 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?
  3. 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)?
  4. What is the student/teacher ratio?
  5. 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.
The Discovery School playground. Photo by Anna CohenMiller.

The Discovery School playground. Photo by Anna CohenMiller.

Schedule a Tour to Find out:

  1. 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)?
  2. 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?
  3. 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:

*Featured/top image: The Circle School garden. Courtesy photo.

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4 thoughts on “8 Tips to Pick a Preschool in San Antonio

  1. Having recently been looking into pre-school and early childhood education centers, I can say sign up early, like a year or more before you want a spot.

    Better schools like The Pineapple School, Circle School, or Discovery School typically have long waiting lists.

  2. Great article about quality early childhood care and education; could the school mentioned as United Pres be University Presbyterian Children’s Center at University Presbyterian SA? I don’t know of a NAEYC accredited center by that name in SA.

  3. Tips for finding a pre-school that has an anti-vaccine stance? Really? That kind of anti-science attitude should have no place here.

  4. It was good that you suggested researching in order to determine whether or not the curriculum and the practices of the school sound reasonable to me as a parent. I will definitely take note of that because I am planning to bring my four-year-old to school this year, and I want to make sure that I bring him to a place where he can really learn. It might also be a good idea to ask other parents just to make sure that I’m going to make the right choice. Thanks.

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