Choosing a preschool is an important decision, and at times can also prove to be a challenging task. What should parents look for in a preschool? What are the key questions parents need to ask?
From teacher training to health and safety standards, there are a number of matters parents must evaluate before deciding on a preschool. In addition to asking the right questions, it is also essential that parents visit schools and spend a fair amount of time at each school to observe the overall program.
To assist parents in determining the best preschool, here are a number of questions and factors to consider:
1. Curriculum: Does the school offer a research-based curriculum that is appropriate for young children? Do teachers create activities that follow the children’s interest while developing skills that promote school readiness? Is assessment ongoing?
2. Director and teacher qualifications: Does the school employ qualified teachers with education and experience in Early Childhood Education? Does the school require ongoing teacher training and development? Do teachers have appropriate clearances? Are teachers trained in Child Abuse recognition and mandated reporter status?
3. Training: Are teachers required to have first aid/CPR training?
4. Environment: Is the environment clean and inviting? Is equipment child-sized and appropriate for young children? Are there learning materials at the child’s level and available at all times?
5. Teacher/child interaction: Do the teachers get down at the child’s level to talk and encourage language development? Are teachers nurturing and supportive when interacting with the children?
6. Supervision: Are children supervised by sight and sound at all times? Are group sizes small and are appropriate teacher-to-child ratios being used? Smaller group sizes and low teacher-to-child ratios ensure better supervision and safety. These ratios vary from state to state, so inquire about regulations.
7. Health and Safety: Are hands washed at appropriate times and are proper hand washing techniques being utilized? If children are not potty trained, are the correct diapering procedures being followed? Are tables sanitized between uses? Are diapers disposed of appropriately? Is the facility cleaned every day by a professional? Are teachers cleaning and sanitizing equipment and learning materials on a regular basis? Does the school have an illness policy that determines when children are too ill to participate?
8. Children’s health: Does the school require a medical screen and updated immunizations in order to enroll? Do teachers have to provide a medical screen too?
9. Evacuation: Does the school conduct monthly fire drills or other safety drills if applicable (tornado, earthquake, etc.)?
10. Playground: The playground is considered an extension of the classroom. Is there a well maintained fence around the play area? Is equipment in good, safe working order? Is surfacing under the play equipment deep enough and does it extend far enough around the equipment to ensure safety when in use? Is equipment age appropriate for the children?
For another article on pre-schools, see In Pursuit of Order.
About Sue Adair:
Sue Adair is Director of Education for Goddard Systems, Inc (GSI), the franchisor of Goddard Schools. As an expert in early childhood development and learning, Sue oversees teacher training and early childhood education programs for 330+ Goddard Schools across the United States. In her 21-year career in early childhood education, Sue has taught multiple age groups ranging from infants to Kindergarten in both private and corporate child care settings, and has seven years experience as a school director including several years at The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development in Blue Bell, Penn. You can visit Sue’s blog at: http://blogs.goddardsystems.com/