Almost every major milestone in life comes with a price tag – college, marriage and home ownership, to name a few.
But if you are a parent, you probably already know that the most significant investment you will make in your lifetime is in your child’s future.
So, when it comes to the foundation of that future - early education - it’s crucial that you check more than your checkbook before enrollment.
With so many choices in the Cape Fear region, starting out on the path to preschool can be a bit overwhelming. Cost is, of course, a consideration, and convenience – proximity to home or office, hours of operation, etc. – may factor
into your search, as well.
But beyond the basics, how can you be sure you’ve found the right place for your child?
The answer to that lies in asking the right questions:
- What’s the line of communication? If the answer to the question, “How often can I expect updates on my child?” isn’t “Every day,” look elsewhere. Between the teacher, director and support staff, a good preschool offers many opportunities to hear how your child is doing, and no report is too minor not to make. You want to know if your child made a funny joke at lunchtime, cried at naptime or shared his book during playtime. Since SOLA believes in the village approach to raising children, staff work closely with parents in order to remain focused on and tuned into each child’s unique development.
- Who’s head of the class? The learning that takes place in the first five years can set the tone for success in kindergarten all the way through college. So, it’s vital that a preschool teacher understand that weighty responsibility… and embrace it with gusto. At SOLA, teachers are college-educated and champions of a holistic and creative take on instruction that is fun, nurturing and with each child’s individuality in mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials because, above curriculum and approach, the teacher is going to have the biggest impact on your child’s preschool experience.
- What’s the (lesson) plan? You’ve taught them their ABCs. They can already count to 10 and they are whiz kids when it comes to colors. It’s the norm to see such at-home instruction reinforced in preschool, but it’s important to understand that the approach may vary, whether it be Montessori, Waldorf or an arts-based program like SOLA. And along with lots of creative expression, a world culture curriculum and exposure to kindergarten instruction, SOLA also focuses on an oft-overlooked but extremely important component of preschool education – social development.
- What’s the word (of mouth)? If you really want the scoop on the best – and worst – preschools in town, there’s no better source than other parents. Chatting with friends and co-workers can give you an inside look at a school you might not get from a scheduled tour.
There are lots of other things to consider, but the bottom line is you should take your time, be thorough, and ask lots of questions so you can be sure you are putting your priceless investment in the right hands.
If you have questions for SOLA, Steve and his staff are happy to provide you with answers. Call SOLA, (910) 798-1700, for more information or to schedule a visit.
Steve Adams is the owner and director of SOLA. Although his journey to SOLA was unexpected, he has always had a talent for mentoring kids and creative design. Since graduating from UNCW in 1992, he has spent 20 years coaching baseball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee locally. He left a 12-year career in the art of landscaping in 2004 before leaving the field to pursue a career for which he was passionate. He began working at SOLA that year and purchased the school in 2006. Originally from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, Steve has a twin brother and a younger brother, and enjoys the outdoors, especially the mountains. Contact Steve at [email protected] or (910) 798-1700.