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What to Look for in a Preschool

PaintingCan you tell the difference between a great preschool and one that isn’t so good? What qualities should a good preschool have? Many parents worry that the preschool they select won’t be the best possible choice for their young one’s early education. Here are some things that you should look for in a preschool. Consider this a quick “checklist” of positive traits that every preschool program should have.

Is the preschool licensed?
Each state has their own rules regarding the licensing of preschool programs. Find out what your state requires. Ask the to see the license that the preschool has. Having a license (in a state that requires them) indicates that this preschool meets certain standards.

What is the teacher-to-child ratio?
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends that there be one adult per every 12 preschool age children. Ask how many children will be enrolled in the preschool program you are considering. Find out if there are any teacher’s aids or volunteers helping out, or if the teacher is all by herself.

What are the teacher’s qualifications?
Does the preschool teacher have an associates degree in early childhood education? (A bachelors or masters degree is even better!) Is the person who will teach your preschooler new to teaching, or does he or she have several years of experience? Home based preschools may or may not have teachers that hold degrees in early childhood education. Formal preschools may be required to meet that standard.

Check for safety issues.
Does the preschool have a working smoke detector? Pay attention to the cleanliness of the preschool. It if doesn’t smell clean, choose another one! Ask how often toys are sanitized and washed. How often does the preschool clean the cots or mats that are used for nap time? Ask to see the kitchen and where the food is prepared for snack times.

How does the preschool communicate with parents?
Can you call or text your child’s teacher during the day (and get a response)? Is there a weekly newsletter that tells parents about upcoming events and new changes? How will the preschool get in touch with you if your child is ill or experiencing an emergency? Ideally, you will want there to be plenty of open communication going on.

What does the preschool’s daily schedule look like?
Look for a preschool that has plenty of activities going on all day. Each activity should fit within a specific, pre-determined, time frame. Perhaps they start with the calendar, and then transition to a story time. Next could be an art activity. Some time should be spent playing outside (weather permitting). Avoid a preschool program that does not adhere to a schedule or that doesn’t have enough going on to keep your child engaged.

Image by Thriving Ink on Flickr.