Concentrate on Quality
There are numerous articles that give the basic criteria for finding a good preschool. I am going to discuss more importantly, how to find the right preschool for your child. Above all, you want to concentrate on quality and not status or the “look” of the preschool. After working in the field for 14 years, I can tell you that the most important quality to look for is inside the classrooms and that is the teachers. Good teachers are hard to find, but they are out there and it’s not always in the most expensive preschools, or the most popular. That is a false misconception
I’m going to assume that your child is ready to leave you and that you are in a position where preschool or daycare has become essential for your family. Don’t worry, when you find the right school, your child will be fine, even if he cries for a while at first. This is perfectly normal and your child generally stops crying within a few minutes after you leave.
Before you begin touring the schools, ask any friends or neighbors for referrals. Ask them if their child is happy, how helpful are the teachers, the director, can you drop in to your child’s class at any time, are the staff friendly, dressed appropriately? When you receive a few good referrals, start making phone calls. There are best times to call to get the proper attention you deserve. Avoid calling before 9:30 A.M., as this is the busiest time of the day for the director and make sure to call before 4 P.M.
Ask if there are openings for your child’s age and before you even consider the school, ask for the class size and teacher/child ratio. Most good preschools will have a teacher and assistant for each classroom unless the class size is quite small. Ask for the name of the licensing agency and the agency’s phone number. Call the agency and inquire about the school and how it is ranked in consideration to state guidelines.
I recommend not starting the actual tours until you have your information from a few different schools and find out if they have specific times slots for tours. You want to go when the children are active and awake, not during lunch or nap time. Again, avoid the beginning of the day or end of the afternoon.
Once you are near the school, observe the surroundings, does it have a nice feel to the area? Is it noisy or crowded? Think about your arrival and departure time and keep this in mind on location. Sit in the parking lot for a few minutes and observe, especially if children are on the playground. How many teachers are monitoring? Are they interacting with the children or talking to each other? Do the children look happy? Does the playground equipment look safe, well maintained?
Once inside, hopefully you will have a professional, warm welcome. Introduce yourself and your child if you have brought your child with you, which I recommend. You want to see how your child responds to the environment. A quality preschool will give you a tour of each classroom so you can get a feel for the entire school. After all, the school would like you to become a partner and continue your child’s early childhood career with them.
When you observe or go inside the classrooms, notice the overall mood and feel. Where are the teachers? Are they actively engaged with the children? If busy with an activity, the teacher should acknowledge your presence and continue the activity, perhaps inviting your child to come and be a part of the activity.
Meeting the Teacher/ Classroom Environment
If the teacher is able to come over and meet you, she should introduce herself and welcome you into the room, kneel down and ask your child’s name and make her feel comfortable. Generally, she will ask you to come in and look around and show you the bathroom and refer to the parent board where the class schedule is posted and other relevant information. Remember, she is still overseeing the classroom, so don’t expect a lot of undivided attention as a classroom full of children is her top priority.
- Is there a certificate/degree displayed near the door? Look at it and make sure it’s up to date.
- Is she warm and friendly?
- Is the room organized well?
- Is the counter or desktop orderly or basically in order?
- Do the children look happy?
- Is the assistant busy with the children?
- Is the bathroom clean?
- Does the room smell clean?
- Are the walls cluttered with posters or do you see the children’s work displayed orderly?
- You want to see more of the children’s work displayed rather than a lot of posters. Too much on the walls is distracting to the children and can overstimulate a classroom.
- How does your child respond?
Ask her if she likes it. Ask her what she likes about it. If you don’t feel right about it, ask yourself why. If you really like the school and it has a good reputation, but you don’t feel right in a classroom, perhaps there is another class you can consider. Remember, even great teachers have an ‘off’ day or an ‘off’ moment. Before you make your final decision, perhaps tour the school one more time to make sure you and your child feel welcome and comfortable.
Deciding On A Preschool Is An Important Decision
The preschool experience is important and a dynamic part of your child’s early school career. You want it to be the best possible experience. A great teacher can help to build your child’s love of learning in a classroom setting and spark her curiosity for a lifetime of learning. A great teacher will be your partner and professionally interact with you.
A solid, strong foundation begins with the teacher and her classroom. It should operate as a whole, allowing each child to participate within her own capacity and therefore some are helping others and growing in the process. The curriculum is not as important as the overall classroom environment. A great teacher will help your child learn how to learn, and not force a child to meet strict expectations.
A good preschool classroom is like a beautiful flower garden! There are so many different kind of flowers, with various colors and fragrances. Some are bold and bright and some are soft and quiet. Together they blossom! I hope you find the best school for your child!
Cindy D. Thomas is a writer, working for MeowEssay company. She has been working a content manager in marketing company for 5 years. Now Cindy is interested in internet marketing and writing. Her favorite books are about fantasy, psychology and business.