Questions to Ask When Choosing a Preschool
There is so much to consider when selecting the right school for your child and your family. Answers to the following questions will help you in the decision-making process.
- Are they licensed by the state? Do they have national accreditation, such as NAEYC (National Association of the Education of Young Children). The NAEYC sponsors an accreditation process, which evaluates every component of a preschool program.
- What is the student-teacher ratio?
- What are the backgrounds of the teachers?
- What is teacher turnover rate?
- Do the teachers take part in continuing education programs?
- What is the daily schedule? Remember, this age group learns best by play.
- How does the program handle a child who is having a tough time separating from Mom or Dad?
- What is the discipline policy? The goal of discipline is self-control, not punishment. Avoid a program that uses corporal punishment.
- Are parents encouraged to get involved?
- May I talk with other parents at the school about their experience?
- Are parents welcome to observe a class in session?
- How is information about the child's day shared with parents?
Once you have found a program that interests you, bring your child and use your instincts as your guide. Does your child seem comfortable with the teacher, with the kids, and the classroom? Is the teacher making an effort to make your child feel welcome? Does it seem like a place that you would like to spend several hours of your day? It's important to talk about the program and ask your child their thoughts. Transitioning to preschool can take some time, especially if your child has little experience away from a familiar relative or favorite caregiver. A good preschool should welcome your decision to stay with your child most of the first day or the first hour or so every day the first week. Once your child knows what to expect, your presence shouldn't be necessary.
Lastly, enjoy this time! Your preschooler will be bringing home stories, experiences, and a broader world—and the one she wants to share it with is you!