Is your toddler now old enough and all set to experience the new chapter of going to preschool? Then it’s time to research how to pick the right preschool for your child!
When we decided to put our son into a Christian preschool, we failed to ask some of the most important questions and ended up with a situation we didn’t like. Knowing how to pick the right preschool is easy when you get all the right information up front.
Your youngster’s forthcoming learning depends much on this earliest time of learning. In some states, pre-k starts as young as 2 or 3 years old, while in others it’s still at age 4. It doesn’t matter if you decide to homeschool your child or send them to a preschool, as long as they are beginning their learning activities somewhere. If you are choosing a preschool, it is a must to know how to choose the right preschool for your child.
You and your spouse should sit down together and write down a list of needs for preschool based on your priorities and values. Remember to consider curriculum, schedule, health, eating, and the school’s location from your town, home, or work. In addition to your list, use our questions for thought below. These will make sure you have all the information you need when choosing a preschool for your child.
How to Pick the Right Preschool: Questions to Ask
What is the ratio of teachers to children at the preschool you’re considering? If you want your son or daughter to have a lot of individual attention from the preschool teacher, choose a school with a small teacher/child ratio. Do you want a school with few kids or lots of kids? It may be a benefit to have more kids to choose from for potential playdates with your little one.
What are the educational materials and teaching toys used by the preschool you’re considering? How often does the staff sanitize the toys? Are the toys replaced as soon as they show wear and tear? Make sure the school has a system for monitoring safety recalls to keep the educational toys in the classroom safe.
Does the preschool issue progress reports, and if so, are they daily, weekly, or monthly? How involved does the preschool want parents to be in teaching and what is required? Some schools require a number of volunteer hours for the parents to work at the school. Make sure the preschool’s requirements work with your schedule.
How does lunch time work? Is food provided by the school? If kids are required to bring a lunch and snack, make sure you know about food storage in the classroom so that you can pack appropriate foods. Is there a microwave in the class so that your tot’s food can be reheated?
What is the preschool’s learning philosophy? Do they focus on hands-on learning or book learning? Is your child going to be allowed to choose not to do certain activities? Some preschools offer way too much choice and freedom to kids who can’t make these kinds of decisions yet.
What does the school require for sick children as far as staying home when not feeling good? Do they have a temperature requirement for staying home with a fever? Do parents have to pick up children when sick to keep contagious illnesses from spreading? Do they have a school nurse handy for sick kids? Do they regularly check kids for lice?
Do they penalize children for absences? This may seem like a silly question to ask at the young preschool age, but the answer may surprise you. Our chosen preschool for my son actually fined the parents money for kids’ absences – even at 3 years old!
Is there a contract required for attendance? This is another important point in case you decide the school is not a good fit for your toddler. You’ll want to make sure you’re not subject to fines or penalties if you don’t finish out a quarter, semester, or school year.
Asking these important questions will help you decide whether a preschool is the right fit for your child. Once you have narrowed down your choices, make sure you visit each of these schools in person. Talk to the staff and make sure you get their policies in writing in case of disputes later.
When in doubt, get more information! And if ever you have a feeling that something is not right about the preschool, even if there is nothing tangible you can point to that supports your feeling, go with it. A bad feeling now won’t feel any better when you’re at work and your little one is at the preschool without you!