Preschool is an important time in a child’s life. Many parents can recall fond memories of their preschool days when they were learning to count, and make friends with others in the classroom. Here are 22 tips that may help you choose a preschool you and your children love.
Table of Contents
- 1. Ask Yourself “What kind of preschools am I looking for?”
- 2. Create a List of All the Things You are Looking for
- 3. Figure Out Your Budget
- 4. Ask for Referrals
- 5. Search on the Internet in Your Area
- 6. Find Reviews of the Preschools in Your Area
- 7. Find Some Local Preschools to Visit
- 8. Preschool Quality License
- 9. Check if the Environment is Safe and Clean
- 10. Take a Look at the Class Your Child will be in
- 11. Who are the Teachers That Will Be Together with My Child?
- 12. What is the Ratio of Teachers to Students?
- 13. What Kinds of Activities are Children Doing?
- 14. How Much Outdoor Playtime?
- 15. If There are Lots of Time “Just Playing” in the Class Schedule
- 16. Pay Attention to the Educational Philosophy
- 17. Ask about Discipline Methods They Use
- 18. What Type of Food Your Child will Eat?
- 19. When is the Time for Your Child to Preschool and After Preschool?
- 20. How Do Parents Get Involved?
- 21. What are the Illness Policies?
- 22. What Fees are Included in Registration Fees?
- Final Thought
1. Ask Yourself “What kind of preschools am I looking for?”
Before looking at preschools, decide what type of environment of a preschool you are looking for to care for your child. For example,
- “Are you comfortable having your child around other children?”
- “Are there restrictions on who can come into the facility?”
- “What are the daily activities that go on during the day?”
These are all important questions to ask yourself before beginning a preschool search.
2. Create a List of All the Things You are Looking for
After deciding what type of environment you are looking to put your child in, create a list of everything that you would like.
List items such as whether or not the school is one level or multiple floors, how many people are in each classroom at one time, if they offer hot lunch or just snacks, how much outdoor playtime there is during the day, and any other important factors that you are looking for. Having this list will serve as a guide while you tour preschools.
3. Figure Out Your Budget
Next, find out how much money you will be able to spend on preschool each year. Preschools typically charge per month or per year, so it’s important to have a solid idea of how much you can afford.
Factor in any other expenses that may come up while you are caring for your child during the day, such as food costs or additional activities for your child. This will give you an idea of what schools are within your price range, giving you more options when looking at preschools.
4. Ask for Referrals
A good way to find a preschool in your area is through personal referrals. Ask friends, family members and colleagues if they know of any quality preschools nearby.
Personal recommendations can be a great way to gain insight into whether a school is right for you and your child. Of course, keep in mind that every person’s experience with a company or service provider is unique, so make sure you do your research on any recommendation given.
5. Search on the Internet in Your Area
After you’ve completed your list of what you are looking for in a preschool, it’s time to begin the search. There are many websites where you can find local preschools and childcare facilities.
Whether you’re looking for a preschool with only one classroom or if you don’t mind having your child in an open room, many websites can assist you in finding exactly what you are looking for.
Start looking at schools within your area, as it may be difficult to drive far away each day to drop off or pick up your child. Tour some schools and visit some websites, then you are sure to find the best preschool for your child.
6. Find Reviews of the Preschools in Your Area
There are also many reviews sites available online that will allow you to search for reviews of preschools in your area, which allows you to hear the opinions of others. These reviews can offer a glimpse into what it’s like to be a part of that preschool and if you would feel comfortable with your child attending.
7. Find Some Local Preschools to Visit
Visiting preschools once you have a potencial list of them. When touring the schools, take note of your child’s reaction to each one. Are they excited? Are they nervous? Are they inquiring about certain things, or just lost in the shuffle? Schools that aren’t a good fit for your child or you will be evident immediately, so keep this in mind when you tour preschools.
If your child is old enough to speak, let them talk with the teachers and see if they like it there. The key things to look at when visiting preschools are the facility, the teachers and staff, and what your child’s reaction to them.
8. Preschool Quality License
A preschool’s license should be viewed as a quality control measure, not a requirement or even the final decision on where to enroll your child. Even though there are varying levels of licensing from each state, it is still possible for a school to have poor staff ratios, unsanitary conditions, and inadequate supervision. A preschool’s license should be one of the factors you look at while making your decision, but it should not be the determining factor of finding the best fit for your child.
9. Check if the Environment is Safe and Clean
When looking at a preschool, you should look at the overall atmosphere of the facility. Is it clean and safe? The facility should be well lit and free from hazards. The classrooms should all have individual age appropriate play areas that are clearly marked for each child with their name on it.
Do they seem like they are prepared for an emergency (like a fire)? Are there many different types of educational materials on display in each classroom that your child could benefit from having access to?
10. Take a Look at the Class Your Child will be in
Spend time observing the class that your child will be placed in. Spend about 10 minutes watching how the teacher interacts with the children and if they seem happy to be there. This can help give you an idea of what it would be like for your son or daughter during the day.
11. Who are the Teachers That Will Be Together with My Child?
The teachers are the most important part of the preschool. They are responsible for caring for your child during the day, so it is important to find someone you trust and who meets your standards. Ask what kind of training they have had, what certification they have in early childhood education, how long they have been teaching, if their background has been checked by the school, and if they are friendly.
12. What is the Ratio of Teachers to Students?
Another important question while touring preschools is how many children are in each class and how many adults are there to care for them. This will give you a good indication on whether or not your child’s needs will be met at that school. The average number of children per teacher is between 12-15, but it will vary depending on the age of the children.
13. What Kinds of Activities are Children Doing?
Look at what kinds of activities are going on in the classrooms when you walk by. What is the teacher doing with the children? Are there many different kinds of things for them to do or do they seem limited? Is your child interested in any of the activities that they are doing?
14. How Much Outdoor Playtime?
Preschools can be indoors or outdoors, but it is still important to look at whether they have an outdoor play area. Nature has been proven to help children concentrate better and develop their creativity. Outdoor play also makes them more tired for nap time, which will help them sleep better.
15. If There are Lots of Time “Just Playing” in the Class Schedule
If a class schedule is posted, check to see how much time there is “just playing” with the children. Some preschools offer structured learning activities in addition to play time with other children. Others may offer an hour or two of free playtime each day while still others leave it up to the child’s discretion when they want to get involved with an activity.
16. Pay Attention to the Educational Philosophy
Just as important as what a preschool offers is their educational philosophy. It is important for a preschool to have a firm grasp on how they want children to learn and grow. Questions you should ask yourself before choosing a school are: Do you agree with their philosophy? Do the staff members understand your child’s needs?
17. Ask about Discipline Methods They Use
Different schools have different discipline methods. There is no one correct way, as every child and family will respond to a particular method better than others. At the preschools you tour, ask about their disciplinary policies and what kind of activities they offer if the student misbehaves.
18. What Type of Food Your Child will Eat?
Ask what type of food they are providing for the children. Most schools have lunch provided daily or snacks throughout the day. Some even offer breakfast at school before class starts. If you will be sending your child to a preschool with food, make sure it will meet all of your child’s nutritional needs and dietary restrictions.
19. When is the Time for Your Child to Preschool and After Preschool?
Pay attention to the time when your child should go to preschool and after. For instance, if your child has a really hard time waking up in the morning, you may not want to put them in a preschool that starts at 8:00 AM because most likely they will be late or not go at all. Also, see if you can get a feel for what the school is like after preschool. Does your child seem eager to go back each day? Or are they happier when the school is over for the day? Pay attention to these things as you are touring preschools.
20. How Do Parents Get Involved?
One thing to ask about during a tour is how parent involvement works. Find out if there are any open houses, special days where the parents are invited, or family events that you can participate in with your child. Being involved in what goes on each day will help familiarize yourself with the teachers and children at the school.
How do teachers keep parents informed? Will they send various updates about your child’s activities during the day or just weekly summaries? Is there an online website where parents can access daily logs about what their child has done at school and assignments they have completed?
21. What are the Illness Policies?
You also want to ask about their illness policies. How will you be notified if your child comes down with a fever? Do the teachers and staff have any record of illness or do they come back up each day after being ill? These are both important details that should be addressed.
22. What Fees are Included in Registration Fees?
One last thing to consider during your tour is what are the costs for registration, supplies, activities, and meals. The preschool should be upfront about all of these costs so you know what you are getting into before signing any commitment forms.
The only way you’ll find out if a certain preschool is right for you and your child is by going there in person and finding out for yourself. Whether it’s the staff, the facility, or your child’s reaction to it, all of these things are important factors to consider when finding the right preschool for your little one.
If you feel like the school is not a good fit, don’t be afraid to speak up or look elsewhere. You may even need or want to change preschools multiple times as your child gets older and their needs change as well.