How to Choose the Right Preschool for Your Family
In our online RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Class, we talked about preschools and what to consider when choosing the right one for your family.
Things to consider when searching for preschools:
1. Approach/philosophy. Is it more play-based or academic?
2. Location. Closer to your home is of course better. It is a real gift to have the option to walk together to school.
3. Hours. Are you allowed to do part-time, full-time? How flexible is the preschool with changing your schedule?
4. Age to start. Can you join in the middle of the school year?
5. Teachers’ backgrounds (e.g., education and how long they have been working at the preschool).
Questions you may want to ask during the preschool tour:
– What do children do during the day?
– What is the ratio between teacher-guided activities and child-directed activities?
– Is there free play? Do you support dramatic play?
– What would happen if a child does not want to participate in storytelling (circle time)?
2. Conflict resolution
– How do you guide children through conflict?
– What do you do when a child gets hurt?
– What would happen in the case of biting?
– What would you do if two children want the same toy?
3. Exploration and limits
– How much do you encourage exploration?
– What happens when you need to intervene for safety reasons?
– What would happen if a child wants to push a heavy truck down the slide?
– Do you have assessments for the children and if so, in what format?
– How do teachers communicate with parents about everyday life? About concerns?
– Do you have parent-teacher conferences? Emails? Phone calls?
– How much time is there for eating?
– Does food come from home or do you have a kitchen?
– Are children encouraged to finish what is on their plate or can they choose not to eat?
– What do you do to ensure the safety of children with allergies?
6. Ratio and number of children
– What is a standard class size?
– What is the ratio of children to adults?
– What is the size of the indoor and outdoor environments?
– Is the outdoor space available throughout the whole day?
– Observe whether the classroom environment is set up to accommodate children or adults.
– Does the environment have a quiet space where the child can go and spend time in a calm, less stimulating atmosphere?
– Does the environment have enough space/climbing equipment for children who need to move?
9. Injury and safety
– What is the protocol for when children get injured (small injuries as well as more serious injuries)?
In the end, actually observing how the adults interact with the children is the best way to gauge the quality of the preschool. If possible, I highly recommend attending a tour of the preschool where you can observe an average day in the classroom.
Wishing you all the best in this difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!