Tips for Choosing the Right Pre-School

- Every family wants whats best for their young children but choosing the right daycare or preschool can be an overwhelming task. Amarillo has many options and the best programs fill up fast, especially as we approach August. Now is the time for parents to choose the program thats right for them and their child.
Choosing the right program is an important decision for every family. Here are five great tips for selecting the right preschool or early learning center for your child.

1)    Decide what type of program you want for your child. Are you looking for a school environment which will prepare your child for kindergarten that provides developmentally appropriate learning for the children? Are you looking for a small, more nurturing environment that might be found in a home-based program?     Opportunity School provides a balance of both. As part of the Texas School Ready! Program, we focus on creating a loving and caring environment that's large enough to help children build the social skills they need, but also small enough with low child to teacher ratios so that we can meet the individual needs of each child.

2)    Spend time observing. There is no better way to evaluate the different options available than by meeting with the director and the teachers, taking a tour and observing in the classrooms. Visiting more than once will help you confirm your first impressions. We always encourage parents to come by the school and see the classrooms in action.

3)    What kinds of activities will your child be doing throughout the day. This can be discovered by talking with the director or teacher about the programs educational philosophy, curriculum, lesson plans and assessing the activities available for the child in the classroom. Parents will want to make sure that the program they select has an educational philosophy of meeting the individual needs of the child by providing developmentally appropriate activities. Every child develops at a different pace and its important that parents look for a program that recognizes the importance of the early years of learning.

4)    Safety, supervision and guidance. Aside from visually assessing the safety practices that are in place, you may also want to request a copy of the parent handbook when you visit the school to learn about the programs policies regarding the children in their care. Important topics will include if your child becomes ill or injured, communication with parents as well as policies for supervision and discipline.

5)    Finally, make sure the school is a good fit for your family. Do you feel welcome as a parent? Does your child seem comfortable in this setting? Do you? While there are many practical considerations about location, process, program hours which are very important; the most important consideration is whether the information youve gathered helps you and your child feel cared for and at home.

A child's most important teachers and greatest influence are the family members who surround them. But if they cant be with you, parents want to make sure that they can go to work or school, feeling confident that they child is safe, loved and nurtured throughout the day.

About Opportunity School:
Begun by local volunteers in 1969, Opportunity School helps young children from low-income families succeed in school and in life by providing a high-quality early education in the classroom and caring family support. The school features low child/adult ratios, highly trained teachers and a research-based curriculum designed to prepare at-risk children for success in school and in life.  Opportunity Schools Central Campus is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and one of only two NAEYC-accredited programs in the Texas Panhandle. In 2013, Opportunity School was named the first No Excuses University preschool in the country.  Beginning this fall, Opportunity School will serve 166 preschoolers, toddlers and infants primarily from low-income families at two campuses in Amarillo.  For more information about Opportunity School, please visit our website at or on Facebook.

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