Currently, around 8.52% of preschools in the United States are accredited by various agencies. While there are many decent preschools that have not completed an accreditation process, there are many reasons for parents to look for schools that are currently accredited or are currently going through the process of accreditation. Alternatively, parents may want to encourage their child's current school to start the process of accreditation for the following reasons.
More Funding Options
Many state and federal programs require preschools to be accredited by a state or national agency in order to receive grants or other public funding. Private funding can also be leveraged more easily when a program is accredited. More funding means that your cost as a parent can remain low while your child is offered plenty of educational opportunities such as projects and field trips.
A Higher Level of Parental Involvement
Many types of accreditation evaluate the relationship between teachers and parents before offering accreditation. They look for schools where the parents are invited to attend throughout the year and are kept informed about behavioral, social, physical, and academic progress.
Even if the accrediting body does not specifically look for parental involvement, the accreditation process is often so intense that it requires the involvement of parents, teachers and administrators to be successful. This means that if your child's preschool is accredited, it is likely that there is a tight network of supportive, involved parents that you will have access to and become a part of.
Greater Commitment from Teachers and Administration
Becoming accredited is a process that often takes more than a year and requires frequent renewals. This means that the teachers and administrators at your child's school will likely be dedicated to upholding the high standards that got them accredited. From a safe environment to productive lesson plans, it is likely that your child will have teachers that are up-to-date in the latest early education trends.
An Allergy-free Environment
Food allergies among American children increased 50% between 1997 and 2011. This means that it is more likely that children in your child's class, or your child, has a food allergy. Accredited schools are required to provide a clean, allergy-free environment. This includes educating parents about appropriate snacks, providing allergy-free snacks, and regular cleaning of the heating and cooling systems to reduce allergens in the air. For parents of children with allergies, this can be a very important aspect of a preschool.
Even if your child does not have allergies, the cleaner air systems can mean that your child gets sick less often. The allergy-free environment can also inspire conversations about differences among children and awareness of special health considerations that can lead to your child becoming more empathetic towards their peers.
More Community Connections
Most accrediting bodies examine not only the internal workings of a preschool but also their connections within the community. This can include how active the preschool is in community events and whether it regularly offers access to the community through field trips or inviting professionals into the classroom to lead lessons and interact with the children. The connections that your child gains during preschool can create a stable foundation for them throughout their entire school career and even their professional life.
Although there are many acceptable schools that have not been accredited yet, if you are searching for a new school for your child, you should consider accredited schools first. If you cannot find an accredited preschool in your area, you may want to talk to your potential schools and find out which school is willing to start the process of accreditation.