Because it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, finding the right preschool or childcare program can feel like an insurmountable task for parents. Fortunately, there are numerous programs and options to choose from in Katy offering parents peace of mind. Many preschools start taking registrations months in advance, as early as February for Fall programs, so it’s best to start looking at preschool and pre-K options early.
Determine Your Needs
First, determine what kind of program will work best for your child. Do you prefer a school that focuses on socialization and learning through play or would you rather have an emphasis on a Pre-K program to prepare your child for school? Do you want a preschool with a religious component or one without? How many days are your locking for? What kind of hours do you require? Once you determine these factors, you can call and prescreen centers by phone to see if they fit your needs.
Ask About the Curriculum
Debbie Anders of Primrose Schools says parents should ask to see the curriculum in print as well as observe it in the classroom. Parents should also consider whether or not the curriculum is developmentally appropriate so your child will be well prepared to enter the school system. While observing preschools and centers, ask to see the weekly schedule so you can see activities that go on day to day. Cathy Robinson of New Hope Child Development Center says parents should also ask about the program’s goals are and then determine if the school’s objectives match yours.
Meet the Teachers & Director
When meeting your child’s potential teachers, ask how long he or she has been on staff. Although high teacher turnover is common in the industry, constant staff changes can be very disruptive to children and may indicate unhappy or under compensated employees. When you observe the classroom, look for teachers who interact well with the children. Do they talk at the children or do they kneel down to talk to children at eye level? Do the children seem to have a close relationship with the teacher? Meet the director and see if you agree with the center’s philosophies and teaching styles.
Observe the Classrooms
Connie Robinson, director of CrossPoint’s preschool program says parents should choose a school that “welcomes the whole family and gives you a good feeling as soon as you walk in the door.” Debbie Anders of Primrose Schools agrees. “Children need to feel safe and secure and parents need to be certain their children are in good hands.” When observing, experts advise parents to not only visit your child’s classroom but to take a tour of the entire center to see how it’s managed and if there are any areas of concern.
Ask About Accreditation
Many centers and preschools are accredited by national childcare organizations. One of these is NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC requires a rigorous self-examination process as well as an onsite visit, confirming that all locations “have demonstrated a commitment to providing a high quality program for young children and their families.” Accreditation can be expensive for centers to undergo, but Ed Hlousek of A Child’s Reflection says parents should look at it (accreditation) as an investment. “This is not just childcare – it’s a quality education for your child and an opportunity to expose your child to a variety of enrichment activities.” Accreditation means the center meets or exceeds standards for class size, curriculum, and teacher’s professional development that are generally much stricter than state standards.
Open Door Policy
Insist on an open visitation policy when choosing a preschool or center. Can you visit at different times? Are you allowed to walk by the classroom and observe the activities? If you’re not allowed in back, or in certain parts of the center, childcare experts say to walk right out the door.
Trust Your Instincts
Anders advises parents to go with their gut instinct. “If it doesn’t feel right within the first five minutes, it’s not the right choice for you.” Connie Robinson recommends a simple assessment: “Does it seem like the kids and teachers are happy?” Choosing a childcare program can be an exhausting, overwhelming experience, but when you find the right one – it’s worth it. Fortunately, there are numerous options and programs to choose from right here in Katy. If you take some time to determine your needs and research various centers, you’ll be on your way to finding exactly what your child needs.
How to Check on a Childcare Center or Preschool
The Department of Family and Protective Services oversees child care in Texas, making site visits and licensing facilities. To check and see if a facility you’re considering has any violations, visit their website at www.dfps.state.tx.us/child_care/. After a brief registration, you can search by program type and zip code. Simply click on name of the center and it will display any violations cited and when they were corrected.
Katy Preschool Fair
Don’t miss this upcoming preschool fair hosted by the MOMS Club of Katy-East.
Where: CrossPoint Community Church
When: Wednesday, January 25, 2006
What: Several preschools and childcare facilities in the Katy area will be on hand to describe their programs and answer any questions you may have.
Be on the Lookout for these Warning Signs in a Childcare or Preschool
• Complaining, disgruntled staff; high teacher/director turnover.
• Center is substantially less expensive than other centers
• Uncontrollable classroom, lack of rules, or chaos
• No curriculum and/or schedule available for review
• Under qualified teachers or director
• Dirty facilities; unsafe playgrounds
• Expired license or violations on record at DFPS
• Bored children; crying children; children wandering aimlessly
• You have a gut instinct this place just “feels wrong”
KATY AREA PRESCHOOL & CHILDCARE GUIDE
Part Time Preschools
Bear Creek Baptist Church Mother's Day Out & Preschool
16607 Clay Rd.
Child Enrichment Center at Kingsland Baptist Church
20555 Kingsland Blvd.
Child's Play at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church
CrossPoint Christian School
705 S. Westgreen Blvd.
Faith West Academy
2219 Porter Road
First Steps Preschool at Katy First Baptist Church
600 Pin Oak
Grace Fellowship's Little Ark
2655 S. Mason Rd.
Holy Covenant Child Development Center at Holy Covenant Methodist Church
22111 Morton Ranch Rd.
Little People's School (at Katy First Methodist)
5601 Fifth St.
Memorial Lutheran Preschool
5810 Third St.
New Hope Child Development Center
1350 N. Mason Rd.
Our Little Saints
2001 Greenbush Rd.
St. Bartholomew's Preschool
5356 Eleventh St.
St. Peter's Early Childhood Development Center
20775 Kingsland Blvd.
His Kids Weekday Preschool at Second Baptist Church
19449 Katy Fwy.
Tiny Treasures Preschool at Central Baptist Church
2855 Greenhouse Rd.
Yellow Brick Road Preschool
5458 E. Fifth St.
Full Time Preschool & Child Care Programs
Note: Many of these centers also offer part-time preschool programs
A Child's Reflection
875 S. Fry Rd.
British Private Prep School
1635 S. Fry Rd.
British Private Prep School
2020 Katy Hockley Cut Off
1351 S. Mason Rd.
23060 Westheimer Pkwy.
Childtime Children's Center
22022 Highland Knolls Drr.
Childtime Children's Center
3170 Fry Rd.
Cinco Cottage Montessori School
23144 Cinco Ranch Blvd.
Five Star Montessori
18200 Kingsland Blvd.
2020 S. Fry Rd.
Katy's Early Childhood Enrichment Ctr.
25403 Kingsland Blvd.
Kidco Learning Center
2437 Fry Rd.
Kids R Kids - Cinco Ranch
21955 Westheimer Pkwy.
Kids R Kids - Green Trails
18150 Park Cypress
Kindercare - Cinco Ranch
2650 Peek Rd.
Kindercare - Clay Road
19510 Clay Rd.
Kindercare - East Kingsland
19930 Kingsland Blvd.
Kindercare - North Fry
2202 Fry Rd.
6130 S. Fry Rd.
Little Hands Big Hearts Daycare
1806 Ave. D, Ste. 102
Montessori School - Cinco Ranch
2350 S. Peek Rd.
Nottingham Country Day School
20303 Kingsland Blvd.
Primrose School of Cinco Ranch
1540 Peek Rd.
Primrose School of Kelliwood
2402 Westgreen Blvd.
Primrose School of North Mason Creek
21480 Park Row Blvd.
Rainbows N-Lil Lambs
1016 S Mason Rd.
940 Fry Rd.
The Learning Center at Living World Lutheran Church
3700 S. Mason Rd.
940 Fry Rd.
Don’t forget to tell them you saw their listing in Katy Magazine’s Preschool & Childcare Guide
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Cathy Berner is a Katy-based freelance writer and the mother two children.
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