3 Crucial Steps Families Overlook When Searching for a Private Kindergarten

Child Development Expert Carol KinlanWhat’s the “right way” to find a private school for your soon-to-be kindergartner?

Educational consultant Carol Kinlan thinks about this question a lot. As a consultant with the Boston-based McMillan, Howland & Spence, she’s helped hundreds of families find the local kindergarten or early elementary school program best suited to their children’s learning needs.

In Carol’s experience, there is no single kindergarten program that works well for every child. Nor should your kindergarten search process be limited simply to the most prestigious schools or the ones most convenient to your home. Finding the best fit for your child, Carol says, requires a careful and honest appraisal of each of your school options and how they fit with your family’s values and your child’s abilities and disposition.

Unfortunately, Carol says, too many families skip past some of the most important steps in the kindergarten search process. This can lead to a disappointing experience for you and your child.

Here are three steps Carol says all families should include during their search for a private kindergarten program:

1. Get an accurate assessment of your child’s abilities from his or her preschool teacher.

A good place to start in determining the type of learning environment you child needs is with his preschool teacher. This is the one person outside of your family who has spent the most time working with and observing your child. Plus, good preschool teachers are trained to watch for subtle clues to a child’s development.

When you talk with your preschool teacher about your child, be specific, Carol says. Otherwise, your preschool teacher might be tempted to emphasize the positive and glide past any areas of challenge.

“Preschool teachers may find it hard to deliver their concerns to a parent. After all, for first time parents, it can be very anxiety provoking to hear their child may have some delays. However, the best time to be watchful is during these early years of development,” Carol says.

Carol recommends using a 10-point scale for each aspect of your child’s development.

“Just say, ‘On a 1-to-10 scale, how is my child doing relative to other children their age in terms of communication skills, attention and behavior, learning new information, etc.?’” she says.

2. Have a conversation about your family’s values.

Even though a school might have a great reputation and a solid academic record, it doesn’t mean the school will help you shape your child into the person you want him to be. Shared values are just as important as a quality academic program.

“Progressive, diverse, traditional — there’s a school for every family and child,” Carol says. “Your children and you will likely meet lifelong friends at this school. Look at each school and ask yourself, ‘Are the values here my values? Is this my kind of community?’”

3. Continue scheduling play dates.

Wherever you choose to enroll your child in kindergarten, he or she might be in for a surprise when he starts. All of sudden, he’ll be temporarily separated from his family, surrounded with new children his own age, and expected to interact with them.

To ease this difficult transition, Carol recommends keeping your child’s playdate schedule busy throughout your kindergarten search process.

“What’s important is that your child is in the company of other children, so that he or she learns how to negotiate speech and what it takes to make a friend,” she says. “They should learn to speak to be understood, speak intentionally, and know the nonverbal and verbal parts of friendship.”

A high-quality pre-kindergarten will also help prepare you child for the social (and academic) challenges of kindergarten.

Hear Carol Kinlan Live!

Please join us on Wednesday, April 27, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., when Carol Kinlan will deliver Preschool to Kindergarten: Is Your Child Ready? How Do You Know?

You will learn how to determine your child’s readiness to move beyond preschool, how to make that transition seamless, and what to look for in a your child’s next school.  

Carol is dynamic speaker who has extensive knowledge of our local public and private school systems and has been helping parents make the best educational choices for their children for over 25 years. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear her practical and actionable advice. Reserve your seat today!

And, use the comment section below to let us know what topics would you like Carol to address in her upcoming talk.

Carol Kinlan Childhood Development Event

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