All parents want to provide their children with the opportunity to grow into their best and most curious selves, and choosing the right preschool makes all the difference. A quality preschool that operates on fostering your child’s natural interests through an inquiry-based curriculum has been proven to have measurable benefits on their future educational career.
It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed by your child care options, which is why it’s important to ask the right questions during the selection process. We created a preschool assessment checklist complete with questions to ask so you make sure you’re covering all the important bases.
Let’s explore the process of finding and choosing a high-quality local preschool for your child.
Is Your Child Ready For Preschool?
Some centers have a preschool age requirement of your child turning 3 by December of the year they are enrolled, while others will want to know your child has met certain milestones to ensure a successful transition. It’s important to remember that all children develop at different rates, and you shouldn’t rush them into a preschool environment until they fit the following criteria:
- Is your child potty trained? Most schools require children to be fully potty trained, or well on their way.
- Is your child able to follow simple directions? A big part of preschool is being able to properly interact with the teacher, so they should be able to follow simple directions such as how to perform a task or helping with clean up.
- Can your child handle transitions? The preschool environment involves transitions between various activities and snack and meal times, so your child should be ok with the idea of moving on from one task to another.
- Can your child be separated from you? While some separation anxiety is natural, your child will need to be able to adapt to being apart from you. It’s a good idea to foster this before children enter school by leaving them for set periods of time with relatives or family friends so they are used to the idea.
- How well does your child interact with other kids? Preschool is a great place to foster strong social-emotional intelligence by interacting with other kids, and hopefully, your child will have some experience with this before starting preschool to give them a head start! It can help to make sure your child is involved in playdates or classes so they’ve developed some group social skills before attending preschool.
What To Look For In a School: A Breakdown of Our Checklist
Not every preschool is going to tick every one of your boxes. As you start looking at preschools, it’s important to determine what preschool program factors are most important to you. It’s important not to just look at the school’s credentials, but also determine if they’re a good fit for your child:
- Does the environment suit your child’s personality?
- Do they offer an inquiry or interest-based curriculum?
- Are they full-time only, or offer flexible drop-off hours?
The following information is an explanation of each of the categories on our checklist, and why we feel these questions are key to ask. It is also important that you bring your child on a tour so you can see how they interact with the teachers and environment.
While these considerations will not necessarily be the first questions you ask, they are certainly an important basis for making your decision:
- What are their days and hours of operation?
- Is the preschool center at a convenient location?
- What is the ratio of ECEs to children?
- What is the cost of the program?
While you may love a preschool’s philosophy, it is likely to be an issue for your family if it’s a 45-minute drive away, or the cost is too prohibitive. However, many preschools have flexible programming such as Vivvi’s in-home program that allows parents to share a teacher and split the in-home cost with another family.
It’s important to make sure you discuss all of your options with the care provider.
The Learning Environment
A large part of your decision will be based on the philosophy of the preschool setting. Do they value fostering independence? An appreciation of nature? Creative skills? You’ll want to make sure you fully understand their approach to education.
For example, Vivvi’s inquiry-based model involves teachers who observe what each child is interested in and use those findings to organize projects and activities that cultivate metacognitive, academic, and physical skills. They foster each child’s natural development and curiosity, encourage them to dive deeper into their individual interests, and solve problems through guided, play-based learning.
As part of your tour, make sure you observe the other children to see if they’re engaged, and watch the teachers how they interact with the other children. Check out the environment to see if they have a variety of toys and learning centers to explore the world in different ways and if they proudly display a variety of children’s work on the walls.
Another important pillar of a quality preschool is how involved they keep you in your child’s education. Are there opportunities for you to be involved? How often can you expect to get updates about your child’s progress? When are you able to talk to the teachers?
Another sign of a quality preschool is that they offer child development sessions for parents who want advice on how to foster learning in their children and meet childhood development milestones.
Health and Safety
Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure your child is learning in a healthy environment and will be well taken care of in case of an emergency. Ensuring all staff is first aid trained and has allergy and illness policies is key to make sure your child will be safe while they’re learning and having fun.
Ready to start booking preschool tours?
Finding a Child Care Professional: Why You Should Always Schedule An Onsite Tour
Many parents will tell you that there is one thing that will make you choose one child care provider over another – first impressions. While dealing with potential child care providers over the phone may not give you the full picture, scheduling an onsite tour certainly will.
We always recommend that potential parents who are considering sending their children to Vivvi schedule a tour of our campuses or comes to an open house. We know that it can be hard to visualize exactly where your children will be and what routine they can expect without seeing the campus for yourself.
At Vivvi, we encourage all parents to come and see the Vivvi experience for themselves. You’re welcome to visit during working hours so that you can meet our educators and see exactly how we engage, inspire, and care for a Vivvi kid.
For more information about our tours or our in-home programming, contact us here.