For some parents and caregivers, choosing a kindergarten program—one of the first steps of a child’s lifelong learning journey—can feel daunting. What makes one program better than another? Should I choose an all-day option? What kind of structure is best for my child? What sort of community fits our family?
To help guide your search, Rowland Hall, an independent private school in Salt Lake City, Utah, provides five things to look for when selecting a strong kindergarten program.
Enthusiastic and Inspired Teachers
The most important factor in a student’s success in school is whether they believe their teachers want them to succeed.
Early childhood learning is built on trust and meaningful relationships—research affirms that the most important factor in a student’s success in school is whether they believe their teachers want them to succeed. Additionally, teachers who are committed to their own professional growth are able to deliver the most salient, research-based pedagogy to their students.
A Welcoming and Warm Community
Look for a warm, welcoming, and inclusive community where you and your family will be valued. Also, consider if your participation is welcome—at the classroom level, in the parent-school organization, and in parent/caregiver education opportunities. Parents and caregivers are a vital ingredient in the supportive environment in which students thrive. Plus, getting involved at school is a way for you to get to know other families who share your values.
All school curricula are not created equally. An evidence-based kindergarten curriculum is most effective in supporting student growth and learning. While it may not always align with the way today’s parents were taught, it provides young children with the foundation they need to tackle the challenges of the future. Furthermore, this kind of high-quality early childhood education offers students opportunities to apply and integrate learning in authentic ways that are meaningful to them—leading to learning that sticks.
A strong kindergarten program is designed to connect individual students with challenges that optimize their learning. Children benefit from a dynamic approach to curriculum where special interests and individual skill levels are blended into integrated projects, studies, and play experiences. Children should be encouraged to learn from firsthand experience and to progress at their individual pace.
Direct Coaching and Instruction in Social-Emotional Learning
When students are proactively supported by teachers who have received SEL training, every child is well known.
A robust social-emotional learning (SEL) program that builds skills around empathy, identifying and managing strong emotions, and peaceful problem solving, including issues of equity and inclusion, is integral to a high-quality early childhood education. When students are proactively supported by teachers who have received SEL training, every child is well known, and no one slips through the cracks. Additionally, students who are encouraged to use kindness and cooperation skills are better prepared for a future where they will work alongside people who are different from them.