1. What is the school’s educational philosophy?
Preschools have many different educational philosophies and approaches. That’s why it’s vitally important for you to understand the philosophy and approach of each preschool you are considering and how that aligns with the personality of your child and family.
2. How long has this school been in existence? And how long has the director been there?
Get a sense of the school’s history and how long they’ve been operating. A director with a long tenure may indicate a more stable educational environment and this is good information to have when comparing schools.
3. How experienced are the teachers?
Preschool teachers’ training requirements vary by state, but it’s important to know some details. Did the teachers study early childhood development? Do they have a college degree? How long have they been working with children? Not all staff need to have formal credentials, but the head teacher should be certified in early childhood education and hold a B.A. or M.A.
4. How much play time do the children have?
Depending on the preschool’s educational philosophy, your child could have abundant or limited play time. Decide what’s best for your child’s personality, growth, and development. Make sure you tour the entire facility including the play areas. Well-maintained classroom and play spaces show a commitment to the children’s entire experience.
5. How much parental involvement do you expect or want?
Parental fundraising and volunteering is often expected. Find out exactly what is required regarding parental support. If you want to get really involved, cooperative preschools require parents to volunteer in the classroom. If it’s not a co-op, ask if the school has an open-door policy so you can visit whenever you’d like.
6. What is the school’s separation policy?
Preschool might be the first time your child will experience an extended separation from you or a caregiver. Depending on the child, being dropped off for school in the morning can be overwhelming. Find out what the separation policy is so you know how involved you’ll need to be at the start and to determine what will work best for your child. You could be required to stick around for the first few days, or the school may take a more cold-turkey approach.
7. What is the school’s approach to discipline?
It’s important that the school’s disciplinary style works with your beliefs, and that you have an understanding of when and why you may be called in. At many preschools, learning how to play with others is core to the curriculum. Social emotional development is the backbone of any good preschool’s work, so getting a full understanding of how the school provides this is key.
8. What does a typical day look like?
What in the world will your child be doing all day? This is an important question to ask and the answer will inspire additional questions you may have regarding the daily school experience like: How much time will your child spend outside? Will they be fed lunch/snacks or do you need to pack these? Will the children be leaving the school building often? What does rest/quiet-time look like?
9. Will my child be safe here?
This may be the most important question. What is the school’s protocol in case of accidents and emergencies? Where are the first aid kits and emergency defibrillators (or lack thereof)? Are the teachers certified in CPR and pediatric first aid? What is the policy regarding drop-off/pick-up and ensuring that the school knows exactly where your child is at all times? If your child has any allergies, now’s the time to ask about allergy protocol and experience.
10. Does the school meet my family’s basic needs?
Every family is different. You may look at a highly regarded school and decide that it is the wrong fit for your family. Can you afford it? Is the location convenient? Do the hours work with your schedule? Are you comfortable with the nutritional approach? What’s your gut feeling right after the tour? Picking a school is a deeply personal family decision–don’t base it on popularity or what your friends are doing.
Looking for answers before your tour?
The answers to many of these questions can be found throughout our website. Here are a few links that may help: