Last week I posted about finding a preschool for Colin. And much like how I researched schools, I glossed over some key criteria in my post. My mother in law was helping me drive that bus and I was happy to let her. She’s got approximately 30 years on me in the parenting department, plus about as many as a an early childhood educator, so it’s for the best really.
But a few of you asked me what specifically you should look for when researching preschools. And thankfully, my mother in law sent me this helpful list to share with you, since my brain is incapable of retaining information other than “Make sure they don’t employ pedophiles” which to be fair, were words never uttered by my mother in law.
This list is specific to Massachusetts standards, so you should check with your specific state when doing your legwork.
Now, step right up. Pick your preschool! [My own editorial comments in gray]
- Make sure your child care is licensed by the state [This is where I failed. Woopsie]. This means that the facility and employees meet the minimum state standards. Go to the Massachusetts Department of Education website for license, adult/child ratios, first aid/CPR requirements and curriculum standards information.
- NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation is a further standard of care and education. It is voluntary and programs undergo an intensive process to obtain this accreditation. Check out their website for more information. Further, preschools that have this accreditation will generally publicize this on their website, if they have one. [Which they should. If you can't find a legitimate website for your school, I would take that as a red flag.]
- Visit the facility with and without your child. Watch the interactions between staff/ children and child/child. Do the children seem adequately supervised? Are the activities motivating and hands-on? Is there a good mix of adult/child, child/child verbal interaction? Is the staff/child ratio appropriate for each child to receive individual as well as group attention? Are the children running, screaming from the exits? If so, I would not even park the car, but keep on driving.
- Ask about their curriculum. In Massachusetts there are State Standards for pre-school which are part of the Common Core. I think it’s important to find a program where the child will thrive. The curriculum for the program Colin is enlisted in involves Drama. Colin will excel in that particular area.
- What is their educational philosophy?
- What does a typical day look like?
- How do they handle discipline issues?
- Are parents encouraged to participate in the life of the school?
- Trust your instincts! You know your child best! Be sure you feel the school is a “good fit” and you are comfortable with the facility and staff. In our case, the question was if they were comfortable with letting Colin in.