Nysmith Blog

Four Hallmarks of a High-Quality Preschool Program

Jen Cross and student

In the market for a preschool? With so many options available from daycare to play school, private school to home-based care, parents can get lost in trying to sift through the various choices. It’s important to keep in mind that research shows that the impact of a high-quality program for your preschooler is even more important in the early years than it is in later years. Why? Young children are sponges—soaking up all of the information available to them. A high-quality school will give them the essential building blocks they need to build a strong educational foundation that will support them throughout life. With that in mind, there are 4 hallmarks to look for when considering a high-quality preschool program for your child.

Small Class Size

Bigger isn’t always better. In fact, smaller class sizes are critical in early childhood education. A lower teacher-to-student ratio ensures that each child gets the attention they need to grow and develop. In fact, studies show that class size reduction in the early grades helps student achievement because there is a greater opportunity for individual interaction between student and teacher. Consider this: how much attention might a teacher be able to pay each individual student when more time needs to be devoted to classroom management?  Low teacher to student ratios, ideally one teacher for every 7 to 8 3-4-year olds, gives teachers the ability to work with the varying abilities and needs of each child in the class.

Nurturing, Degreed Teaching Staff

The relationship between your child and his/her teacher will ultimately be one of the most important relationships in their lives so it’s important to find a great teacher. So, what makes a great preschool teacher? First and foremost, a loving and nurturing presence. Remember that the teacher will be a primary role model for your child, so you’ll want to be sure that modeling comes from someone who is gentle and kind, but also firm. If the teacher is working within a small-sized classroom, she’ll also be able to more readily attend to the needs of your child. Secondly, you’ll want to be sure that your child’s teacher has a college degree in early childhood or a related field. A good teacher will help to instill the love of learning in your child by creating thoughtful and engaging lessons that spark their curiosity. Communication between school and home is another important factor. Your child’s teacher should be meeting and/or speaking with you regularly to give updates and information on how your child is progressing in the classroom.

A “Whole Child” Curriculum

When evaluating a preschool curriculum, you’ll want to look out for the following 4 key elements.

 Social/Emotional Learning

While learning the ABC’s and 123’s is important in the early years, it’s just as important to learn social and emotional skills. Look for a program that emphasizes socio-emotional learning or character development as well as academics. Making friends, waiting for a turn, following instructions, and finding appropriate ways to handle emotions are all skills that can be learned in the early years and the preschool classroom is the perfect environment for learning them!

Foreign Language

A foreign language program is another telltale sign of a high-quality preschool program. Research shows that learning foreign language early helps children develop critical executive functioning skills. Skills like working memory, cognitive flexibility, organizing, planning and prioritizing, are all skills that are influenced by early introduction to foreign language.


Now, more than ever, it’s becoming more important to teach computer literacy skills to young children. With word processing taking the place of pens and paper in the later years, young children can start on the path to understanding how computers work within their preschool classroom. In fact, computers can help enhance children’s understanding of reading, math, science, and more.

Music & Movement

You’ll also want to be sure that music and movement are part of your child’s curriculum as they develop their gross motor skills. A weekly physical education program specifically designed to meet the needs of a 3-4 year old can assist children with spatial awareness as well as developing strength and confidence. A specialized music program can also support children in all aspects of development.

Five Day/Week Program

Many parents have the perception that a 2 day or 3 day program may be better for their child’s first introduction to school, but consider this — children thrive on a regular routine. Because their lives are essentially out of their control, they look to repetition and structure to provide a sense of security. A five day a week preschool program gets children acclimated to going to school regularly. Lessons can be continued without the disruption of day-long breaks and transitions between home and school become seamless.

For more information on The Nysmith School’s Beginners and Preschool program, click hereSchedule a tour or RSVP for our next Open House to learn how Nysmith sets the foundation for a lifetime love of learning.