You’ve decided to send your little one to preschool, and you want the very best for them. You’ve narrowed it down to three options that look good and you’ve scheduled a tour for each one…But what do you look for while you’re there? Here’s 5 signs of a great preschool to look for while you’re touring, so you’re sure to pick the best one for your child.
A great preschool should have an inviting environment, as well as an inviting staff. When you enter you and your child should be greeted with a smile and a warm welcome. The teacher should engage with your child in a kind and respectful way, ask your child questions about themselves and help them feel comfortable.
It’s also important to note if the classrooms are inviting. There should be eye-catching posters on the wall displaying things like the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, etc. A great preschool classroom should also have tons of books, art supplies, manipulatives, dramatic play areas, and other educational toys/games.
Of course, you want your preschooler to be safe while they’re having fun! A safe preschool should have:
- A fence around outdoor play areas
- Proper safety equipment
- Hand washing sinks
- Staff trained in first aid/CPR
- Nutritious food stored safely
- Clear policies and procedures put together
The staff and teacher should be able to answer all of your questions, and leave you feeling like your child is going to get a great education. Some questions you should ask are:
- What type of curriculum is used?
- How will said curriculum help my child’s development?
- What kind of hands-on activities will my child do?
- Do teachers use unique strategies for unique students?
- Does the staff have appropriate credentials?
- Does the facility perform assessments, and regularly inform families of the children’s progress?
Preschool is an important time to learn through play, so even if a preschool has the best curriculum, if they don’t use it in a fun way your child won’t get the most out of it. You can tell a lot about how much a teacher engages with the children by looking around the room. Do you see things like:
- Lots of books!
- Educational toys
- Musical instruments
- Sensory tables
- A play kitchen
If you see all or most of these things, great! Your child will most likely get a fun hands-on education in that preschool. If you don’t see many of these things, ask the teacher how they keep the children engaged. Do they sing, dance, tell stories, or perhaps have items they can show you that you haven’t seen?
If you get a blank stare and a generic answer… you probably haven’t found your great preschool.
Overall a great preschool needs to have a healthy balance of developmentally appropriate activities. Children should have an appropriate amount of time doing various activities throughout the day that help them develop different skills.
Teacher’s should have a daily schedule they follow, including things like circle time, dramatic play time, outside time, lunch or snack time, arts and crafts time, etc. Routine is important in preschool so a great preschool will have a clear routine for children to follow daily.
NEED A LITTLE MORE HELP?
Check Out NAEYC
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (the world’s largest organization of early childhood professionals) holds their accredited schools up to 10 very high standards. Check out their list of standards to find out if your potential school meets the criteria or not.