Many factors need to be considered when you're looking for a quality preschool and it takes time to find the right one.
Teachers Make a Difference
- Ask the preschool director about teacher qualifications, such as the number of teachers who have completed college courses or degrees in early childhood education.
- Find out if teachers have been trained in CPR, first aid, and infection control.
- Ask how long teachers have worked at the school.
- Watch how teachers interact with the kids. They should be warm, affectionate, and show enthusiasm about the children's projects.
- Make sure the teachers are having conversations with the kids in their class.
- Watch to see if the teachers are kneeling down so they can play and talk to kids at eye level instead of looking down at them.
- Has a variety of learning opportunities where kids are taught in a class setting, in a small group, or one-on-one with the teacher.
- Offers a range of activities from solving puzzles to playing outside.
- Lets teachers “connect the dots” by linking your child's experiences to learning objectives. For example, if a child drops a ball, the teacher could talk about gravity.
- Find out whether the teacher can tell you not only what the class is doing, but also why they're doing it.
Take a Look Around
- Does the school meet state regulations for teacher-to-child ratio? In general, there should be one teacher for every 10 kids.
- Are there separate learning centers for writing, art, and reading? Is there a good playground? Do children have access to computers?
- Does the classroom have plenty of books and educational toys, such as blocks and puzzles?
- Do they provide breakfast or lunch? If so, check the menu. Make sure the meals and snacks are nutritious and include lots of fruits and vegetables, and that beverages are healthy - mainly water and reduced-fat milk.
- Do the children in the classroom seem busy and engaged in an activity?
- Can parents stop by at any time during the day?
As you're searching for the right preschool, don't be shy - ask the preschool director and staff lots of questions!
If you can't find a quality preschool, check with your local First 5 county commission
to see if Summer Pre-K programs are offered through the school district. Pre-kindergarten programs are often held for several weeks in the summer to help get kids ready for school.