Nursery School vs. Preschool

Question: I would like my 3-year-old daughter to have more interaction with other young children. Should I choose a nursery or preschool program for her? - Undecided

Answer: Several years ago, the names of early-childhood programs mattered. Nursery schools usually offered socialization and enrichment, preschools stressed preparation for school, and child-care programs provided custodial care. Today, there is such a blend of what these different programs offer that you must look at a specific program to see if it is right for your child.

Begin to learn about different programs by talking to their directors. Then, for several hours, visit those that intrigue you to see what they are really like. Be sure to look closely at the way the adults interact with the children and the way the children interact with each other. You should try to find a program with a low staff turnover rate so that your child will have an opportunity to bond with her teacher. In general, young children do better in small groups with one or two teachers rather than in larger groups with more teachers.

Finally, most experts agree that the most important question you can ask yourself about a prospective program is, "Would my child enjoy it?" If you don't feel comfortable, the program is probably not right for your child.