Visit, Interview, and Check References
Preschool education can provide parents with an opportunity for their child to be cared for by someone who is not a member of their family, and for their child to further develop her newfound social skills with other children within her age group. An early childhood educational setting can also assist your child on the road to further developing communication and problem-solving skills, and learn to work together to accomplish these goals with other children.
“It is important that parents understand that not all preschools need to be licensed,” explains Rees. “In New York State, only programs in which children attend more than three hours are required to be licensed by the state. Licensed facilities must follow regulations including employee fingerprinting and background checks."
Licensed regulation also must mandate child-to-teacher ratios, adds Rees. You should always research the background of any facility that you’re interested in by contacting your state’s department of education for a list of accredited schools near you. You can also visit the National Association for Family Child Care and search for a list of accredited preschools within your area.
If you have settled on a few facilities that seem acceptable, make an appointment with their staff and directors, and make sure you bring a core list of questions to ask at each appointment. Discuss all of your requirements, questions, and concerns with the staff, and ask to tour the facility. Be sure to observe the environment, advises Rees, who also stresses that “parents should make sure that the facility is clean and well equipped. They should ask about the facility's procedure for cleaning toys, since they should be disinfected on a regular basis.” Note the student-to-teacher ratio and how the teachers react to the children. “A good preschool will have an open-door policy, meaning that as a parent, you may stop in at any time while your child is at school,” says Rees.