Everything you need to know when choosing the best school.
Enrolling your child in school can be an exciting and scary process. Now more than ever, there are so many types of preschools with defined philosophies and practices. A school that makes you feel at home and welcomes your child into their environment while teaching morals, values, social skills, and emphasizes a foundation for their self-esteem and sense of self is a good fit. When creating a list of schools to visit, it is important to keep a list of questions in mind (or in writing) to make sure that this school is the right one for your child. I’ve compiled the following questions to help you make an informed decision when deciding the best academic environment to care for and teach your child.
Logistics of Distance
- Do you want the school to be near your home or workplace?
- Are you looking for a preschool that offers early drop-off and late pickup?
- You may find a school you absolutely love, but you must consider and accommodate the daily far drive, the earlier wake up times, the later times getting home, traffic, etc.
- Is the school accredited?
- Is it faith-based? If so, how is that taught to the students?
- Find out what is the school’s philosophy and if it’s not something you are familiar with, ask more specific questions.
- Get specific examples as to how the school applies that philosophy in reality. You want to make sure that the ideas are followed through in everyday practice.
- Is this a new philosophy that the school is trying out or something embedded in their curriculum for several years now?
- How does philosophy shape the daily curriculum and activities?
- How are academics taught- via free play or structured drills, or both?
- What is the level of reliance on homework?
- What is the class size, teacher to student ratio?
- How is learning encouraged? Through play, supervised, or instructional activities?
- How much time is devoted to free active play versus structured activities?
- Are snacks and lunch provided? Can you bring your own food? How do they handle allergies?
- How is naptime?
- Do they try to prepare the pre-kindergarteners for public school kindergarten or first grade?
- Is the discipline policy compatible with the way the parent disciplines the child? Do teachers implement time-out? How do they do it? What circumstances warrant a time out?
- What is the policy for biting or disruptive students? How are parents notified of problems?
- What are the general teacher qualifications in this school?
- How long have they worked at this school?
- What is the turn-over rate? How come?
- How many of them hold degrees in early childhood education?
- What languages do the teachers speak?
- If your child’s native tongue is “X”, and the teacher speaks in this language, will the teacher communicate in the native tongue or only speak in English?
- Are the staff members trained in CPR and first aid?
- Have they undergone a background check?
- What is the school policy on toilet training, pacifiers, transitional objects?
- What is the policy on separation anxiety?
- How often can you communicate with the teachers? (e-mail, phone calls, conferences)
- Is there a weekly/ monthly newsletter?
- Do parents have opportunities to be involved in school activities to offer their services?
- Can parents visit the school at any time?
- What extracurricular activities are offered? (field trips, aftercare, music, art, physical education, foreign languages, guest speakers (professionals to speak to the class)?
- What is the policy on aftercare?
- Health screenings (auditory, visual)?
- Parent workshops for kindergarten readiness?
Special and Financial Needs
- Does the preschool accept children with special needs? Are teachers trained to work with children with special needs? Are other therapies allowed during school hours?
- Are scholarships available for those who cannot afford full tuition?
- Does the school offer part-time or hourly pricing for those who do not need full-time care?
- Does the preschool have only one entrance and exit?
- Is the play area fenced in to keep young kids from wandering away?
- What security measures are in place? Security guards, gate, supervision during free play
Questions to Ask Yourself as You Tour the School
- Do the teachers look happy, frazzled, annoyed, tired, loving?
- Do they attend to the kids who sneeze or cry?
- Do the children seem happy and busily engaged?
- Are many crying, sickly?
Room and School Areas
- Are the rooms organized and showcase children’s artwork and creativity?
- Are there different activity stations?
- Are there adequate areas to play inside and outside?
- Check for cleanliness and toys- are the toys intact?
- Does the classroom look clean?
- How do you and your child feel when you walk through the gate?
Pay attention to your child’s instincts as a clue to whether the school provides an environment that will support his growth and development.
- Do you feel welcome there or like you are intruding?
If you have any questions or want further guidance, contact me at (786) 383-4942 to schedule a consult.