We have started looking at preschools for my son for next fall. We had one interview last week and another one this week, and I will probably look at two or three more preschools before we decide.
Even though it is only January, preschools are already giving tours and taking names for fall sessions. The first place we went warned us that they have younger siblings of current students planning to come and only have a few spots left. But no pressure.
Other places that offer daycare services take students year-round and also can fill up quickly.
Here are some questions to consider if you are looking at preschools too:
What is the average class size? How many teachers or aides are there in each classroom?
National guidelines recommend a ratio of 1 teacher to 10 students for 3 to 5-year-olds, with a maximum of 20 students.
Is the school accredited?
There is a national accreditation for preschools, so you need to determine if this is important to you. The accreditation process includes visits by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, self-study involving children, parents and faculty, as well as strict criteria related to providing a developmentally appropriate program.
Ask about how long the school has been around and if they have high teacher turnover. You also can ask for parent references to find out why other parents like the school.
What is a typical day like?
A tour should include an explanation of how children spend their time at the school, with some time for free play and peer interaction, small and large group activities and usually time outside or in an indoor area with playground-type equipment.
What are the hours?
Do the days and hours work with your own schedule? Some schools have sessions two or three mornings or afternoons a week, and others are part of daycare programs that offer more hours for parents who work full-time. Ask how strict they are about pick-up times, find out if they have optional extra hours if you need them.
What is the cost?
Find out how much the program costs, usually there is an initial deposit with the application to save a spot, and then a monthly fee for tuition.
Are there requirements for parents and students?
Find out if the program includes volunteer time from parents, and whether your child needs to do certain things before attending, such as be potty trained or be able to get their own coat on.
What are your instincts telling you?
Go with your gut _ consider how you feel when touring the facility and talking to teachers or administrators. Different types of programs work for different children, whether they need more structure or can handle a program that lets them be more independent. See how your child reacts, are they checking out the toys or are they unsure as well.