What is the Best Preschool to Prepare My Child for Kindergarten?

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A friend of mine asked me the other day to give my professional opinion on whether she should enroll her child in a preschool within the public schools, or keep them in the childcare where they are currently enrolled.  The parent wanted to know if their child would be ready for kindergarten. She loves her childcare but is concerned that the center is rather small in numbers, and didn’t know if this was the best choice to prepare the child to enter a larger classroom with twice as many peers. This is the $100,000 question, and I didn’t give her an easy answer, because the fact is, it depends.

Types of Childcare Licenses in Nebraska

It is important to note that there are several options for licensed childcare in Nebraska and all must meet compliance by Childcare Licensing. For more information on childcare licensing, see The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services website.

Family Child Care Home I

Program in the home of the provider; maximum capacity is eight children of mixed ages and two additional school age children during non-school hours.

Family Child Care Home II

Program in the home of the provider or another site; maximum capacity is twelve with two providers.

Child Care Center

Program licensed for at least 13 children.

School-Age-Only- Center

Program licensed for at least 13 children who are attending or have attended school.

Preschool

Program providing educational services where children do not nap and are not fed a meal.

I believe this parent was looking for some key indicators as to whether the childcare was doing an adequate job in preparing children for kindergarten.  Well, the fact is, the only requirement to enter Kindergarten in Nebraska is that the child is five years old on or before July 31, which is the cut-off date for Nebraska.  The idea is that schools must be ready to educate children of a multitude of abilities.

There are some good resources available for parents through the Nebraska Department of Education that can aid in making this important decision.  The important thing to note when looking at state standards for kindergarten is they are written toward the future, as to what the child should know and be able to do by the end of the kindergarten school year.

I gave my friend a few resources from the Nebraska Department of Education to explore. These resources emphasize that kindergarten readiness is more than what children know at this age, but also includes key behaviors and social skills linked to success.  They also include how parents and caregivers can support the child’s growth and development in all domains to be successful in the next level of education. If parents are searching for childcare, or contemplating the shift from a childcare center to a public school preschool, the quality indicators can be used as questions to ask the childcare provider. Many childcare providers are educated and well trained, and implement research and evidence based curriculum that does provide children the foundational skills needed for kindergarten readiness.

Questions to ask caregivers

  • Tell me how you promote good health and physical skills
  • How do you encourage appropriate social skills among children?
  • How do you support the child’s knowledge and thinking skills?
  • What do you do to support children to transition to kindergarten?

Check out these sites for more information:

Nebraska Department of Education, School Readiness

Getting Ready for Kindergarten: What Early Care and Education Providers Need to Know

A parent’s guide for preparing your child for school

There are many childcare options available in Nebraska that are committed to quality; it is up to families to determine the type of setting their child will learn and grow in, and isn’t that a wonderful thing?

LYNN DEVRIES, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Jaci Foged, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Beth Janning, 4-H Youth Educator

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

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