Finding the Right Preschool

My daughter is three-years-old and will be starting preschool in September. I have begun to scout around at the local schools. Could you offer suggestions or criteria by which I should judge these schools?

Question:

The most important things about a preschool are:

  • student-teacher ratio
  • a pleasant atmosphere
  • the amount of space per child, and
  • the availability of room for the children to run, in both indoor and outdoor situations.

Student-Teacher Ratio

Classes for three-year olds should have no more than 15 children with two teachers. I would also recommend you consider the relative ages of the teachers, as I believe it is important to have a balance between older, experienced teachers and younger, newer teachers. Both should be working in the school. If there are only new teachers, someone is trying to hold down salaries, and if there are only older teachers, from where are the fresh, new ideas coming?

Pleasant Atmosphere and Space for the Child

Take a tour of the school, and consider the following questions:

  • Do the teachers speak to and interact with the children with respect and pleasantry?
     
  • Is there a sufficient amount of room in each classroom for each child to move around freely?

  • Do the kids look happy?

  • Is there a good-sized outdoor play space for kids to run around and use there large motor skills?
     
  • Equally important, is there a similar place provided indoors, for inclement weather?

  • Most important, does the school's atmosphere seem friendly and "right" to you? Use your gut feeling as well as your judgment.

A particular philosophy is less important than these criteria. Some schools adhere strictly to a theory, but I'd advise you to steer clear of those. They rarely put the child first.

It's best to send your child to a friendly, cheerful school near your home, where he or she will learn the important social skills necessary for the rest of school life!

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