The Preschool Decision: Essential Questions

Choosing the right preschool for your child is a significant milestone that sets the foundation for their educational journey. As you embark on this exciting yet crucial process, it’s essential to be well-prepared and armed with the right questions when visiting potential preschools.

When we have the privilege of meeting new families every day, we often hear worried parents unsure of what to ask. So, we thought we would help! What should you be asking? Here is what we think:

Philosophy and Approach to Learning: It is always a good idea to ask what educational philosophy the preschool follows: How is play integrated into the learning process and what are their ideologies for Early Years Education?

Curriculum: To get an insight into your child’s learning at the preschool, you may want to ask what curriculum is followed and what areas are included in this curriculum along with the approach of the curriculum.

Teacher Qualifications and Training: While you may not be able to meet the teachers of the class, it is always a good idea to ask about the staff including what qualifications the teachers hold and if they participate in professional development during the year as requirement of the school. To get an insight into what the management of the preschool considers significant in their teachers, you may want to ask what they look for when choosing their teachers.

Safety and Security: While this should be a priority in an early years setting, we advise parents not to take this for granted and questions regarding safety and security measures should be asked. Asking will give you a chance to see what is important for the preschool regarding safety as well as hear more about the policies in place. Good questions to ask include: Emergency policies and procedures, security measure for the children during pick up times and the first aid training of the staff.

Communication with Parents: Being involved in your child’s educational experience is a very important component in order to achieve the best possible outcome on these initial steps on their path but it can also make you, as a parent, feel more comfortable as you feel updated and informed. Questions that will give you a view into the communication process between you and the preschool include: How is communication maintained between teachers and parents?, Are there regular parent-teacher meetings or progress reports? And is there a parent involvement program?

Daily Routine: Asking management to walk you through a typical day will help you gather a clearer picture of how your child will spend their day and the answer to this question will tell you a lot about the organisation of the school itself.

Behaviour Management Strategies: This is one of the most important questions, we feel, parents should be asking when visiting a preschool. It should not be assumed that the preschool’s philosophy to behaviour expectations and discipline will align with yours and if it does not, this can lead to disappointment later on when your child begins school. It is always a good idea to ask how the preschool handles conflict resolution amongst their young learners and what behaviour management strategies their teachers are encouraged to use.

Health and Nutrition: Asking about sickness policies is always a good idea. While it is a given that in a child’s first year of preschool, as they gather their antibodies and build up their immune system, they are going to get sick more than others who have been in preschool for a few years, it is important to ask what the preschool’s policies are to help maintain a healthy environment. Additionally, asking about how nutrition is handled is an important question. In a place where your children will spend a lot of time, you might want to check that the habits they will be learning are sure to be healthy ones! Asking to see a sample menu and enquiring about birthday celebrations will help you get an insight into their views on nutrition in the early years.

Remember, every child is unique, and finding the right preschool involves aligning your values and expectations with the school’s philosophy and practices. Take the time to visit multiple preschools and ask questions to make a well-informed decision that sets your child on the path to a positive and enriching early education experience.

Good Luck, Parents!