Are you having trouble deciding which preschool to send your little one to? If so, this post will help guide you to the right one. As an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher I have had a lot of experience working with preschools and in them. These questions are the ones I asked very recently when I began the preschool search form my son. I highly recommend attending a preschool fair if possible because then you get to meet many preschools at once which cuts down on the work for you. Keep a pen and paper handy as you will want to take notes so you can remember who said what. If there isn’t a preschool fair ask for recommendations from friends and family. Call others that you may be interested in to see if they are accepting new children in their programs. Once you have narrowed down your choices make sure to go and tour the schools and talk to the director and teachers so that you can make sure it is a good fit for your child.
1. What is your staff to child ratio?
You want this number to be as low as possible. This number will vary from ages as well. In a 2 year old room you would want more staff as toddlers are quite busy and need a lot of help to do basic things. In a four year old classroom the staff to child ratio may be a little higher as a 4 year old is much more independent than a 2 year old. “Staff” can mean a variety of people from teacher assistants to a speech pathologist so dig a little deeper and see who the room will be staffed with.
2. What are your expectations of the children?
Make sure the expectations are developmentally appropriate for the age of your child. If you are talking to 2 year old teacher and they say circle time is 30 minutes, that would not be appropriate. Attention spans are short for a child that young so about 10 minutes at a time is plenty. Make sure to ask if it is a requirement that a child is potty trained before they attend as this can differ from one program to the next.
3. Do they serve children with special needs?
Most preschools either serve children with special needs or are willing to work with outside staff that would come in and support the student. A huge red flag would be a school that is not willing to do either of these two things. Inclusion of children with special needs should be in every school and if not I would question why they are not able to include all children in their program.
4. What is your curriculum focus?
I received a variety of answers when I asked this question at the preschool fair. The answer I was looking for was: play. Children learn through play when they are this young so it should be how learning is introduced. Preschoolers should be focused on learning to interact with each other, problem solving, and growing their imaginations at this age. All of these skills can be learned through both facilitated (guided by a teacher) and free play.
5. Is there a school discipline policy?
If a child “acts up” what happens? Making sure that the preschool’s behavior policy matches yours is important. Having similar views means your child will get consistent responses to their behaviors at home and at preschool which will lessen any unwanted behaviors.
Please let me know if you found these questions helpful by commenting below or reaching out on Facebook or Twitter!