Deciding to enroll your child in pre-school is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience – for you more than your child. Selecting the right school is crucial to your comfort level and your child’s well-being.
When you begin the selection process, the following tips should help you choose the best school for your family:
School size is the first thing to look at. You probably want a school that is small to medium sized, rather than an exceptionally large program. This will help while your child acclimates to a new environment. Look for programs that have fewer than eight infants, fewer than 15 toddlers, and fewer than 20 pre-schoolers.
Child-to-teacher ratio is the next area to consider. You want your child to have as much individual attention as possible. You also want them to be safe. For both of these to occur, the child-to-teacher ratio should allow for at least one adult for each of the following groups (states mandate these ratios, which can change from state to state):
o Infants – four to five infants
o Young Toddlers (12 to 24 months) – four to six
o Older Toddlers (2 to 3 years) – eight to 10
Well trained staff is essential for a quality educational program. Ask about the professional qualifications, training, and experience of the teachers and staff in any school you are considering. Also, ascertain that the school promotes ongoing training for their teachers and other staff.
Staff turnover should be low. Any school with a high turnover is probably not a school you will want to consider. Low turnover allows your child to bond with the teachers and to feel comfortable about developing relationships with them. This will let your little one learn more and feel more content. Also, you will feel more confident with a school with low staff turnover, as that is an excellent representation of the facility as a whole.
The environment needs to be safe and healthy. Everything should be clean and well-maintained, from the tables, chairs, and toys inside, to the playground equipment outside. Be sure the school is licensed by the state, as that will show you they meet certain criteria in health and safety.
Question the director and staff on their safety and health procedures for emergencies. When they answer, look for quick and knowledgeable responses. Emergencies require split second decisions. You want the staff caring for your child to know exactly what they need to do.
Tracy Leigh Ritts is a freelance writer based in Ohio.