What questions should you ask a potential preschool? The search for a preschool for your child can be nerve-wracking. You want to be sure the preschool is safe but inviting, that it has a high level of education and activities to help your child get a well-rounded educational experience, that its teachers are highly-qualified in the curriculum as well as in early childhood education, that your child will be comfortable socially and have a positive interaction with the students in his or her class, that the program will help prepare your child for elementary school, and–of course–that your child will look forward to going to school.
When should my child start?
Although many preschools will offer classes for children as young as 2 1/2, a high-quality preschool will discuss how to know if your child is ready for preschool and, if so, how many days a week the child may be comfortable with. This may include whether or not your child is potty trained (read Kids Village’s policy on potty training), if your child is comfortable being away from you for a few hours at a time, if he or she is comfortable working on projects alone, if they’re comfortable in social situations with other children, and if they’re interested in books or art projects, etc.
What will my child learn?
Perhaps one of the most important questions is about what your child’s daily activities in preschool will look like. What concepts will they be introduced to? Are they developing purely academic skills or will they be introduced to lifelong skills as well? Asking this question will ensure the education is in line with your expectations.
From where does the school derive its curriculum?
Is each teacher in charge of his or her own lesson plans? Is the curriculum strictly based on an existing curriculum? Some preschools loosely base their material off of existing curriculum, while others adhere strictly to the curriculum, and still others create a unique curriculum of their own. It’s important to know what type of curriculum your child’s preschool upholds to ensure it’s in line with your educational goals.
What is your school’s guiding philosophy?
Every school will have a philosophy around which their curriculum, teaching methods, activities, and interactions with students. During your tour of the preschool, make sure to ask what this guiding principle is, and make sure the philosophy aligns with your own philosophies as a parent.
What are the teachers’ credentials?
It’s important that you’re confident in the teachers who will be interacting with your students. If they’re academic teachers, ask about their education and training; if they’re workshop teachers, ask about their prior experience with children and their expertise in their workshop subject.
How is information communicated to parents?
How will you know how well your child is doing in school, what he or she is learning, whether or not they’re comfortable socially with the other students, and whether there are any areas in which you can practice at home? Some schools will send home quarterly reports while others will send home monthly updates. How often do you want to be apprised of the goings-on at your child’s school?
How will this preschool fit with my child’s regular routine?
Is your child used to a nap at a particular time? Snacks at specific intervals? Ask about your school’s schedule and determine whether it will fit with your child’s current routine or if changes will need to be made to help your child to adjust to a day at school.
What is the teacher-to-student ratio?
How many students is each teacher required to watch over at any given time? During early childhood development, it’s important for a child’s safety, learning efficacy, and comfort to have regular interactions with the teacher. The lower the teacher-to-student ratio, the better.
When do you begin registration? Do you have a waiting list?
Most quality preschools begin registration for the following school year as early as January. There is usually an early registration period where current students and families can re-register their children, and then registration will open to the public. High-quality early childhood education is highly sought after in Utah County, and private preschools tend to fill up many of their prime spots months before school even begins. The earlier you can register, the more likely you are to get the days and times you desire. If space has already filled up, ask if there is a waiting list. Most preschool programs will offer a waiting list. Since summer tends to be a fairly transient time for preschool registration, it’s not unusual for a few spots to open up before the school year begins.
What safety protocols are in place?
What is the check-in and check-out process? Are the doors locked during school hours? How will parents be notified in case of emergency? Do children have adults with them when they step foot outside of the classroom? Make sure the school’s safety standards align with your comfort levels so you can feel secure in knowing your child is safe at school.