Preschool is a big moment for toddlers and parents alike. It’s either the first time little ones are venturing from the nurturing confines of home, or you’re gearing up for the big transition from daycare.
As parents, this makes choosing a preschool paramount. From the school environment and education philosophy to the curriculum, teachers, and staff, there’s a lot to consider when touring facilities.
To help guide you as you’re scoping out the hallways, we’ve turned to the experts at Bright Horizons, a leading global provider of early education and preschool centers for over 30 years, for the top questions to ask when making the decision for your family.
Get ready to screenshot this list and take some notes!
1. How does your curriculum differ from other preschools?
Preschool can be a great launching pad for kindergarten, helping your little learner grow as a whole (cognitively, socially, and emotionally). As every school fosters a different educational philosophy, it’s important to investigate the curriculum to ensure it’s balanced to your educational standards. For example, a well-rounded program incorporates early math skills, literacy, language development, creative expression, music, and playtime.
2. What qualifications are required for all teachers and staff?
A school’s teaching staff is key in your child’s educational success. Ask if teachers (and substitutes) are required to receive training hours in the curriculum taught. Is there a minimum level of education required for teachers? Is there a trained nurse on staff? At Bright Horizons, teachers are encouraged to not only further their own education, but to also stay current on effective education techniques.
3. What’s your student-to-teacher ratio, and classroom size?
Smaller class sizes and a low student-to-teacher ratio (a.k.a. the number of students per teacher) can make all the difference in your child’s development. The lower the number, the more individualized attention your preschooler will receive on a daily basis.
4. What are your parental involvement and communication policies?
The saying that it takes a village extends well into the realm of education. Teachers and staff who encourage parental involvement, provide regular updates, host parent-teacher conferences, and allow opportunities for participation in school activities can set one preschool apart from the next. Toss in parental resources, like webinars, podcasts, and articles, as Bright Horizons recommends, and you’ve landed yourself a winner.
5. What is your approach to outdoor playtime?
There’s no denying that little ones love playtime, and fortunately, their desire for outdoor exploration actually aids in their development. As you tour preschools, assess how they incorporate outdoor play into their daily routine, and check out their outdoor spaces to see if it allows for exploration and connection to the great outdoors in a fun and safe environment.
6. Is potty training a requirement in order to enroll?
If your tot is in the process of potty training or will be during the preschool years, it’s crucial to understand the school’s policies. Some schools require children to be fully potty trained before enrollment, while others may offer support and flexibility during this milestone. Are they set up to be your partner in potty training?
7. What health, safety, and security protocols do you have set in place?
When considering schools, your child’s overall well-being is of the utmost importance. Inquire about health, hygiene, safety, and security protocols, as well as procedures for allergies, illnesses, and emergencies. Is there someone on staff trained to use an EpiPen, if needed? Is it equipped with updated equipment and resources? Are there regular security drills and training sessions for staff? Is there controlled access to the premises, and proper fencing?
Ultimately, take the time to visit in person and ask all of these questions (and then some!). And for a headstart on preschool centers that check off all the boxes, turn to brighthorizons.com. The best time to learn more about their early preschool programs is now, as they are currently open for fall enrollment!