Here are 20 items to look for when visiting preschools:
1. When heading out to look at preschools for your little one, it is a great idea NOT to call ahead. This does not give them time to warn their staff.
2. Have a list of questions with you so you won’t forget in the moment.
3. Check that the teachers bend or squat all the way down to the children’s eye level to speak to them. It is intimidating for a small child to be talked to by an adult from up above.
4. Teachers should never have their back to the class especially on the playground. It only takes a second for an accident to happen or a toddler to bite another toddler.
5. There should be a wide variety of well-kept toys of every type. For example, small and large blocks of different materials to build with and a variety of musical instruments.
6. There should be enough ride-on toys and bikes outside for children to have a turn. Typically one per every two children outside should be enough.
7. The room should be decorated in colorful child friendly decor at a child’s level. If all of the décor is too high for the children to enjoy, who is it really there for? Also, the children’s work should be on the walls with at least one item from each child. The décor and children’s work should be changed out weekly.
8. The teachers should genuinely show happiness when speaking to the children and the parents. The best teachers truly love working with kids and enjoy their job. A smile on all of the children’s faces and the teachers faces should be the norm, not the exception.
9. The directors should interact positively with their staff and support their teacher with continuing education and positive support of their lives and work. Find out the turnover rate with the main classroom teachers.
10. The schools should pay the teachers a living wage.
11. The schools should communicate openly with parents about the good (fun activities, what the children are working on) and the bad (lice, virus going through the school) in a timely manner.
12. The schools should communicate in more than one format (email/text/newsletters/signage).
13. Check that the carpets and the flooring are being cleaned regularly.
14. Check the mulch on the playground. It should be approximately 6 inches deep.
15. There should be different playgrounds for each age group and the older children should not be left alone with the younger children.
16. The food served should be healthy, warm and the types of foods toddlers and young children can eat safely.
17. Parental involvement should be encouraged and they should offer ample opportunity for involvement on a regular basis. Schools that don’t encourage involvement don’t want parents to see what is really happening in their school.
18. Find out about any hidden fees besides the weekly class fee. For example, meal fees or field trip fees.
19. If it is important to you, ask how the school handles holidays and children’s birthdays.
20. Find out what the school emergency procedures are and how they have handled an actual emergency in the past.
Good luck and happy school year!