How To Find The Right Early Childhood Program For Your Child

How To Find The Right Early Childhood Program For Your Child


By: Kate Dworkoski

July 19, 2019

Finding the right early childhood program is an experience that will include your entire family -- not just your child.

Every city or neighborhood has a few preschools that every parent knows about, but there are always other outstanding programs that might be less well-known.

By researching your options using school review websites, national organizations, and local organizations like the Parents League of New York for us here in the city, you can start to identify the choices available in your area.

Finding The Right Options

Here in Manhattan, we have many excellent programs with different approaches to teaching young children. Several programs, including St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s, go through eighth grade and allow your child and family to plant roots and have a cohesive school experience.

Others are standalone preschools that are exclusively focused on the early childhood experience; families choosing one of these options will undertake the admission process again for kindergarten. For many parents, having so many options can feel overwhelming.

My best advice is to trust your instinct. You are the best gauge of how your child will respond to a setting, regardless of the school’s philosophy. Chances are if you felt excited, engaged, and energized by being in the school, so will your child!

Put Yourself In Their Tiny, Adorable Shoes

When you visit a school, ask to spend some time in the classrooms and really observe how the children are interacting with the space, material, and teachers.

Children learn best when they are surrounded by caring, supportive, and engaged adults. So, ask yourself some questions:

  • What interactions did you observe between the teachers and students?
  •  Would you have handled it the same way?
  • What is the classroom space like? Are the materials well-organized?
  • Does the space feel welcoming and not overwhelming?
  • Do the children and adults in the room seem happy?
  • Most importantly, did you feel comfortable in the school? Did it give you a warm feeling about the program?

The program director or admission director is there to be a resource for you and your family as you learn more about their program. I always encourage parents to reach out by phone or email with questions or if they would like to be connected to current families at the school to ask about their experience.