You have already made the best decision, the decision to send your child to a Jewish preschool. But there are so many to choose from in Los Angeles that a family can get meshugeh trying to choose the right one. Here are some helpful hints:
- Do your homework. Check out the philosophy of not only the preschool but of the synagogue, too. Does the community follow your family’s hashkafah or ideals? Do they offer a program that meets your needs in terms of hours, pricing, distance you are willing to drive, and do you like the environment?
- Prepare a list of questions that are important to you before going on a tour, and you should tour a few schools, even if you think you know what your first choice is. Make sure you are not looking to choose a preschool that will help get your child into Harvard. That is not what preschool is for
- Preschool is a place to learn to share, to learn what being Jewish means in the context of community, and to learn that you belong to something more than just your parents.
- Check out the parents. Really check them out. Do they seem like the type of people you would love to become best friends with? Have at your home for Shabbat dinner? Trust to send your child to for a play date?
- Make an appointment to meet with the director and if possible, one of the rabbis. Your preschool director can and should be much more than someone making sure you have paperwork filled out for enrollment. Your preschool director is your key to an entire network of parent events, social events, parenting advice, and support as you take your child(ren) through the first years of school. With so many children coming through the doors of a preschool each year, it is important that you develop a relationship with the director from the beginning. Likewise with a rabbi. I always tell families that the membership you get should not be like an AAA card. That you only use it when you have an emergency. Clergy today offer a wealth of insight into much more than just Torah and can be an integral part in the growth and development of your family throughout your lifetime.
- Finally, go with your gut. While this sounds so simple, it is essential that you feel an emotional connection to the school and synagogue that will become a second home to you, your children, and your family for many years to come. As a family, you will thrive if you feel uplifted, supported and excited to enter the walls of this building.
Tamar Andrews is the Director of Temple Isaiah Preschool. She holds an MA in Child Development and an EdD in Educational Leadership and Administration, and she is on the faculty of several local colleges as an instructor of child development. She is also an international school consultant and a California state mentor director.