Choosing a preschool is one of those important decisions that can feel totally overwhelming. After all, this is where your child will be spending her days for the next two or three years! But have no fear—Kveller has come up with the top 10 questions to ask any preschool. Armed with these, you’ll be able to ask the right questions and feel confident in the decision you finally make.
Before choosing a preschool, you should go on a tour to see what the place is really like. And in the end, a lot of this comes down to a personal question: will this place work for my child? Go with your gut—your instinct will serve you well.
1. How long has this school been in existence? How long has the director been here?
The answer to this question will help you get a sense of the commitment that the director, teachers, parents, and community have to the school.
2. What kind of experience and education do the teachers have? Is there a high turnover rate?
Experience and education are both crucial components of effective preschool teachers. Additionally, there can be a high turnover rate in preschool education. Low turnover tells you that teachers feel very committed to the school.
3. What does a typical day look like?
Getting a sense of the routine of the day will be important as you think about how your child would fit into that schedule.
4. How involved are parents? Are there regular parent-teacher conferences?
If you want to be totally involved, or totally uninvolved, it’s important to know the expectations up front. Additionally, you’ll want to know how the school handles telling parents about their concerns regarding your child—do you get phone calls or do these things wait until parent-teacher conferences?
5. How is Judaism incorporated into the classroom?
It might help your decision-making process to know whether holidays, values, and Jewish culture are discussed in the classroom. Is Shabbat celebrated weekly? Is Hebrew vocabulary used regularly? Will there be activities outside of the classroom that parents attend to celebrate holidays?
6. What is the average class size and teacher-student ratio?
It’s crucial to know how many students and teachers are in a classroom. The answer will differ based on the age of the children. Every state has different laws, and additionally, there are standards about this from NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, but since not every school is NAEYC- accredited, you’ll want to determine this answer. (In New York City, the standard is: “There should be at least one teacher and one assistant for each group of 10 two year olds, 15 three year olds, 20 four year olds, and 25 five year olds”).
7. What is the educational philosophy? How does the school approach learning?
There are many different educational philosophies when it comes to teaching young children: Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio-Emilia, and more. Whatever your school does needs to make sense for you and your child, whether or not it’s named after a specific educational theorist.
8. What is the policy for taking care of sick or injured children? At what point are parents called?
Accidents and emergencies happen—you want to know what your school will do. Additionally, you need to know what the expectations are for children returning to school after being home sick or with a fever to minimize infection to other students.
9. What kind of play spaces exist (indoor and outdoor)?
Play is how young children learn. There needs to be space to play—it’s that simple.
10. How is discipline handled?
Again, you want to know when you will be called in, and how you will be asked to help with any potential situation that may arise. It’s important too that the disciplinary style used by the school works with your belief system.