Did you know now is the time to enroll children in preschool? It sounds crazy, but most schools open enrollment in January through March (some earlier!) and many fill up long before summer break!
As a first time mom, I totally missed that and lucked out that my school wanted me as a teacher enough to squeeze my son in at the end of the summer. Now I’m the director, and I’ve been giving lots of tours as our open enrollment nears. Since it’s on my mind, I thought I’d share four things I would look at when touring a preschool (which because I love alliteration all start with F, just like FUN)!
How does the building look? Is it well maintained? Can you tell that updates have been made? This is just an indicator of the school’s general status. A great school can exist in an older building, and a not great school can exist in a beautiful, brand new building. The goal is to walk in and feel good about the school! Is it bright and cheerful with stuff on the walls and children’s work displayed? Does it look clean and organized? I wouldn’t expect perfection – wear and tear is going to happen and shows that the building is well loved, which is a good sign in itself! This also goes for toys and books. I obviously wouldn’t want to see broken or dangerous looking toys, but pristine, brand new toys could also be unused toys.
The best question you could ask is how long have most of the teachers been there? If teachers are staying around for five or more years, that is very telling! Preschool is not where the money is at, so if they are staying around it’s because they love to teach small children and they like the way the school is run.
I run background checks, call references, and look for previous childcare experience on resumes, and those things should be standard at any school. Education degrees and certification can be wonderful assets for teachers of older preschool students, but certainly not necessary at every age level.
Think about what you are wanting your children to get out of their preschool experience. Are they focused on prepping children for a rigorous elementary school education? Or are they more of a Mother’s Day out where the focus is fun? Are they somewhere in between? Do you want a curriculum and learning goals? Is it important that there be an imaginative play/social skills aspect to their day? Do you want a religious component? How concerned are you/they with developmental appropriateness or aligning with Texas’ preschool guidelines? And you may not know for sure until you take a tour or two, but it is certainly something to consider.
This is huge. What do their current families say about the school? Do they love it? What do they love? They may love X but are less impressed with Y, when you really care about Y but don’t care about X. A great school shouldn’t need to advertise- they may anyway and that’s fine of course, but their current families should be singing their praises enough to fill the rosters. Reputation in the community is so important to me as the director and probably is for you as a parent as well!