Well, the calendar has turned, and I bet many of you are realizing your little ones are going to be starting preschool before you know it! Finding “the One” (right preschool that is!) can be quite an overwhelming process. When I was researching preschools last year I had no idea what I was doing or what questions to ask. Preschool is a BIG part of your child’s life. After all, it is their first experience with what is going to be many years of education, so you want to make sure it is a positive one.
Sara Hooper, owner and director of the newly opened Mission Montessori in Mission Viejo was nice enough to write this AWESOME post for us. I wish I had read this last year – it would have made my life so much easier!
What to look for and questions to ask when touring preschools
by Sara Hooper
Touring preschools can be overwhelming and parents often don’t know what questions to ask. It’s easy to get overloaded with information and forget specifics when looking at different programs.
Below is a list of questions to take with you on your tour:
What is the education/experience of the director, teachers, assistants and aides?
What is the average turn-over of staff?
What is the school’s educational philosophy or curriculum?
Will your child be prepared for kindergarten? Is there a kindergarten readiness/assessment test?
What is the teacher to child ratio? Ratios are set by the state agency, Community Care Licensing Division. The maximum state ratio for preschool students ages 2-6 is 1-12. Most quality programs offer lower ratio’s than this (especially for 2-3 year olds).
How many children total are in a classroom?
Are the children with the same teacher/s every day?
Will your child have an opportunity to visit and meet the teacher prior to starting?
Are there extra-curricular classes offered such as music, art or dance?
What is the school’s sick policy?
What is the hand-washing policy/procedure?
How is discipline handled?
How are children comforted?
Are snacks/meals provided? If they are provided, are they prepared on site or delivered? Ask to see a sample menu.
What is the daily schedule?
Are parents allowed to volunteer?
How often are toys/materials cleaned?
Is the school professionally cleaned or cleaned by the teachers?
How often are carpets cleaned (especially important in infant and toddler programs).
Does your child need to be potty-trained to start? If not, do staff assist with potty-training and what’s the potty-training philosophy?
How does the school handle allergies?
How does the school handle pick-ups by someone other than the parents?
Does the school have an emergency plan (disasters/fire/earthquakes)? How is communication handled with the parents/teachers and parents/administrators? Ex. P/T Conferences, Emails, Newsletters, Etc.
Follow your parental instincts and be a good observer. Do the children and staff look happy? Are the toys/materials new and inviting? Does the center look and smell clean?
An experienced director should give you her full undivided attention and feel comfortable answering all of your questions. This is your opportunity to get to know the director because she is the person you will typically go to when/if there are problems or concerns.