Preschool selection is a difficult task, considering there are many preschool and daycare choices available for parents. It is both exciting and overwhelming time for you and your child. This maybe your child’s first time away from home, therefore you should definitely take your time and do a lot of research. As parents, you want to make sure your child is at the best place where he/she will be able to grow, develop, play and to start academic learning needed to succeed in the future. In choosing a preschool you should consider the most important factors that fit your family needs. Be sure to feel confident, happy and safe leaving your child at school.
Here are few points to think about when selecting a preschool:
- Proximity to work or home. Being close to preschool is a plus. We all spent a lot of time in traffic on a daily basis, try to look for a center that is conveniently located ( being close to major freeways is a factor as well ).
- School hours and holiday schedule. Be sure to inquire about hours of operation, price for before and after care. Most preschool close for major holidays, make note of the days closed.
- Programs flexibility. Does this preschool offer full and part time option? Do schedules fit the needs of your family? Can you switch from part to full time, if needed?
- Cost. Affordable tuition is one of the major deciding factors for most families.
- What is included in tuition? Make sure to inquire about meals, extra classes and programs offered.
- If meals are included, are the freshly prepared? Are the meal choices healthy? Does the school accommodate religious and diet preferences ( vegetarian, kosher, etc.)
- Background and experience of teachers and staff. One of the most important factors that should influence your decision. Make sure to ask questions during the tour, after all your child will spent a lot of time with the teacher, make sure to feel comfortable with teacher’s demeanor and qualifications. What is the staff turnover? How long to teachers stay? Why do the leave? Are teachers happy working at this center? What is the teacher/child ratio?
- Daily activities and schedule. A good preschool always follows a schedule that meets the needs of most students and should include lots of play time, academic development and nap.
- What are the policies and procedures? Make sure to read a handbook with all policies explained in detail (sick policy, discipline , vacation, etc.) How are accidents handled? How and when does the school notify parents of an “ouchie”? Is there daily communication between staff and parents? Are parents allowed to call or check on their child? Open door policy is essential, that means that staff are following rules and protocol at all times, making parents feel safe and comfortable is very important.
- Cleanliness and safety. Maintaining clean and safe environment is very important, ask about cleaning schedule, classrooms should be thoroughly cleaned by a proffesional at least once a day. What kind of cleaning products are used? Are products safe to be used around children? How safe is the school? Ask about pick up and drop off policy, presence of security cameras is a big plus.
- Indoor and outdoor play space. Safe and well maintained play areas are very important for your child’s physical development and fun time at school. Make sure to walk the yards to ensure that the equipment is in good condition and your child will be safe.
- Check out school’s reviews on all major review sites, It is a good idea to check with California Licensing division to make sure there are no major violations and the school is in compliance.
We also suggest to schedule play dates to make sure that your child likes the environment and the transition is a bit easier. The best advice we can offer is for you to trust your instincts. You will know which school is the right choice for you and your child. See as many as you can, watch and listen. It is ok to ask a lot of question and to vist more than one time. After all, well being of your child and your peace of mind is what’s of the utmost importance.