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Moms Talk: Choosing a Preschool

Trade advice with other local parents on picking the right preschool in town.

Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms take your questions, give advice and share solutions. Join along in the discussion with the Moms Council in the comments section below

Moms, dads, grandparents and the diverse families who make up our community will have a new resource for questions about local neighborhood schools, the best pediatricians, 24-hour pharmacies and the thousands of other issues that arise while raising children.

Moms Talk will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic. Do you know of local moms raising their children in the  and is it the best way? Where can we get information on  for children? How do we talk to our children about the Tucson shootings? How can we help our children's schools weather their budget cutbacks?

So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with a question from Mom Council member and Brookfield Patch columnist Amy Landisman:

Choosing a preschool in Brookfield: What questions should a first time mom ask when visiting? Do you have a recommendation for a favorite preschool in town? How do you know if a program will work for your child?

Get involved in the discussion through the comments section below.

Carol Dores March 02, 2011 at 11:29 PM
The things we looked for in a preschool....what a typical day looks like (play time is learning too!); what they were learning throughout the year; the style of the teachers and the fit with our kids; the cleanliness and safety of the room, playground, etc. ; how many kids per teacher; and since we both worked long hours outside the home...the hours of the preschool and availability of before and after school programs. Our boys thrived at Country Kids in Miss Jean's room...but that was so long ago, idk if she is still teaching!
Kerry Swift March 03, 2011 at 03:26 AM
I did pretty much the same. I actually didn't sent my first child to one preschool because it was rather dirty and seemed disorganized. Funny thing - it's no longer in business. But yes - number of teachers and the way they structured the day was important - not that the day was that long! But I wanted them to have lot's of play time, but also have structure.
mary ellen barnett March 03, 2011 at 12:13 PM
My feeling on preschool, is to follow your motherly gut. Just like most first time moms, I went to 15 places to find a good fit for my prescious child... and really found just what I needed at Country Kids. I knew it as soon as I walked in the door. It was really just that simple. I gave many places the chance to be my childrens home, but this one was just the place. It fit all my needs and gave me a sense of peace with the care and pleasant surroundings. My advise, trust what you feel when you go in for your tour. and remember you can always make a change if you are unhappy. Lucky for me I never had to do that.
Jennifer Pashkin Scott March 03, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Part one of my answer due to character limitations: I completely agree with the importance of trusting your instincts when choosing a preschool (or daycare). There are so many options! First, I think it’s important to determine if you want an in-home setting, which is typically much smaller than a “center” setting. There are some great in-home options, and many who launch these preschools are former teachers or early childhood education grads with great ideas around learn through play. Some children thrive in that small, personal environment. There are also mid-sized and larger preschools which might offer a lot more variety in scheduling of activities and due to the volume of kids can bring in outside programs like soccer or martial arts. The tradeoff might be that you’re going to get a larger class size, with 8 to 20 kids depending on the age. (CT State determines legal ration of teacher to students.)
Jennifer Pashkin Scott March 03, 2011 at 02:14 PM
I chose a center, more of a full scope school, for my son. We only moved to Brookfield the summer before my son was entering pre-K (4 years old), so I did not look at in-home settings up here. I did look at many larger options, and we chose The Goddard School. I could not be happier with that choice! The things I looked for: cleanliness of the facility, security at the facility, how the classrooms were decorated (i.e. how much was at the child’s eye-level, vs. being put up for the parents sake, what was labeled with written tags like did the chair have the word “chair” printed on it, how the alphabet was displayed on the wall, if there was an interactive calendar, etc.) what the curriculum was (or what the activities were throughout the day), whether or not there was a science center, a library center, a computer, etc., whether or not a schedule was followed, how much of my child’s daily activity was chosen by him, versus how much of the day was actually planned by the teacher, if there were non-traditional learning opportunities, like yoga and sign language (both taught at Goddard!), the type of education (learn through play is very important to me, and not everyone really understands what that means…), whether or not there was an active PTO, and not least of all, but last on this list, whether or not I liked the director and/or owner as lines of communication between the school and the parents is paramount!
Amy Landisman March 03, 2011 at 02:54 PM
I absolutely agree with trusting your instincts! I chose three different preschools for my three kids. The Waldorf School in Newtown for one, which provided a structured but nurturing and highly creative environment with tons of outdoor time; Faith Academy Preschool in New Milford for another, which was highly academic and structured (maybe a little too much) and Hudson Montessori for my youngest. I'm happiest with the Montessori approach. I visited almost every preschool in Brookfield and listened to what other parents told me about their experiences. I just couldn't find one that felt right for us and was disappointed by some of what I saw. I looked for warm, smiling teachers and a clean, safe, stimulating environment. I didn't check out St. Joe's, which I hear is expanding to accommodate more children. I have heard only good things about them so far!
Camille Sage March 07, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Hello Carol! FYI, Miss Jean is still here teaching our half day 4 year old program as well as Miss Maria (her assistant at the time your boys came), but Maria now works in the office with me. After so many years, we are still having fun!
Margaret Petta March 08, 2011 at 12:53 AM
When researching the proper Preschool from my most precious gem at the time, my oldest child I visited all the schools Brookfield had to offer. At the time I was also pregnant with my second child, so I knew at the time I was selecting a school for the child I knew and the child I had yet to meet. Each school was different, but CK offered that sense of family that is unparallel. As a former teacher I loved how they integrated learning into play so it was fun for the kids. At the time CK was the only school that showed me they posted a daily schedule, which the teacher in me loves!! For us there was no other choice but Country Kids. It is been an amazing experience for my 3 different children. My family has enjoyed a close relationship with the staff & owners at Country Kids. Over the past six years my family has made Country Kids a part of our family. When people ask which school you recommend I always say there is no place like County Kids when it comes to both Academics & nurturing ones child. The atmosphere is that of a happy place thanks to Camille, Roseanne and Pat. As well as the amazing staff Sheryl, Jean, Joanna, and many other. In June my youngest will graduate the 4’s this will be a hard day for me since my son has been inside that building for the 5 years he has been on this planet. I thank all of you for preparing both them & their Mommy for the next phase of their life and I will always be grateful for the great academic start you gave them!
Annie Ovanessian March 08, 2011 at 03:31 AM
When we moved to Brookfield nearly 6 years ago I too looked around for preschools for my then 3 year old. Fortunately St. Joseph School in Brookfield decided to start up a ore school program that year. What appealed to me about their program was the fact that the preschool benefited from the resources available to the entire school, ie Library, music, gym, but was isolated via a separate entrance and age appropriate classroom and playground. The perfect balance of faith and pre acedemics made our choice easy. We have since enrolled our son and look forward to enrolling our youngest.
Busy Mom March 08, 2011 at 10:20 PM
My only suggestion is to go with your gut instinct. My children attended the Goddard School (with its previous owners) and the lack of stimulation and learning was staggering. My oldest child would cry every day to have to go there as he was so bored. Then we found St Joseph's which had just opened its first Pre-K 4 class. From the first day he attended, my son was bouncing out the door at the end of the day having had so much fun. Incredible learning - the access to ALL the school facilities - library, gym, music, buddies with the "regular" school children for projects provided a fantastic all-round experience and it shows. My second child did attend Country Kids for a while and we found it okay, but nothing special. The facilities seemed quite dated and we felt that our child's two teachers were not as enthusiastic as we would like. It seemed a little more like glorified babysitting - BUT I know the experience of others is different and I am not negating their experience. I would recommend, however, taking a look at St Joe's. There is a brand new addition which is solely for the Pre-K and K age group with its own project/art/resource room and new classrooms. Mrs Bader (who heads up the program) is a wonderful teacher.
Liz Cristaudo March 09, 2011 at 01:11 AM
I cannot say enough about the preschool program at St. Joseph's School in Brookfield, CT! Currently my daughter is in the full day pre K 4 Program and I am truly delighted. The teachers are fantastic and the learning environment has been so productive. My child is currently participating in such classes as Spanish, Science, Computer, & Religion along with learning her reading & number fundamentals. She cannot wait to share what she has learned as soon as I pick her up from school. I am also pleased with how attentive the administration is with my child's severe food allergies. I researched all area preschools before enrolling my daughter and I can say with 100% assurance, I have made the best decision. I feel that She is not only learning important scholastic necessities but also continuing to grow as a kind, christian young lady
Danuta March 09, 2011 at 05:05 PM
As a working mom of two boys now ages 6 and 4 I was looking for a preschool that was fun for the boys but also taught them great values. Saint Joseph's pre-K program was a definite winner! My older son went there two years aago and my younger one is in that program now. What appealed to me was: - It's 5 days a week and the child can stay in After Care after 3PM, which both of my son absolutely LOVED since they got to play with older kids. - The teachers in the program have been working together for many years and form a very good team - it's obvious that they do this because they love it - definetely not for the money - The program is very rich academically, which makes my son feel very grown-up since he gets to go the library, learn on a computer, learn Spanish, etc. just like his older brother. - The whole school is a very friendly community
Mary Anne Robinson March 09, 2011 at 07:19 PM
We LOVE St. Joseph'sSchool and the pre-k is fantastic!! Both of our children attended the pre-k and are still there now in kindergarten & 3rd grade. The teachers are caring, attentive & just wonderful all around. They learned so many different things in the pre-k such as Spanish, Religion and computers. I love when my children come home excited about their day... I would highly recomend St. Joseph's School to anyone looking for a great school experience and a great education from Pre-K and beyond.
Kelly March 12, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Kelly O'Rourke We have three children that attend St. Joseph School in Brookfield. Mackenzie, who is in 3rd grade now, was fortunate to enroll in the PreK3 program for their start up year. My three year old twins are currently in PreK3 and will go next year into the 5 full day PreK4 program. I cannot say enough about this program and the entire school. PreK offers a very nurturing, loving, and safe environment. There is the perfect balance of fun and learning. The PreK and kindergarten have their own newly designated area of the shool but the younger ones still get to interact with the older children which is great! The "buddy" system which pairs up an older grade with the little ones is something Mackenzie loved and the twins are so looking forward to next year. The PreK has access to all the school facilities which have been improved and upgraded every year since Mackenzie started. Michele Bader has done an amazing job as the PreK director - Julie Lewis, Laurie Barrett, Amy McGinniss, Monica Harron , (Judy Fredette & Nadine Shephard) are the best. Not only is SJS the best choice academically, but also because the entire school reinforces the core values we are trying to instill in our children - faith, love, respect, consideration, etc. My kids look forward to going to school !!! They come home excited about their day and want to share what they've learned - that says alot. I highly recommend the PreK program and K thru 8.
Susan July 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM
The things I would look for are experienced, warm, child focused teachers. By child focused I mean: talking to them with respect and at their eye level. I also look for an environment where the children have things at their eye level, natural beautiful materials to use and where it doesn't feel like a "facility" but a comfortable place to hang out. The Montessori Community School at Brookfield is our choice by far. It is small (max 30 children in the school with 3 teachers and a spanish teacher, as well as Music Together teacher) and my child loves feeling like that is her place - that's why Maria Montessori called them Childrens House.
Kay Jean Hardin March 26, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I was looking for a pre-school that fit with our family and multiple needs. I agree with the "go with your gut" advice. I chose Goddard School, and I looked at a large number of pre schools. The teacher's are experienced, caring and wonderful people. The children feel a sense of belonging. I would reccomend The Goddard School highly.
Jo Jo June 19, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Hi. My 2-1/2 was diagnosed with ASD. Highly functional & very charming. He needs a very structured, nurturing, engaging, fun, environment & clean. I am looking for a pre-K school and I wonder if you can recommend me one. I read above posts and although helpful I need an advise on which ones are highly structured in their activities & routines. Greatly appreciated.

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