In our May issue, we offered parents some questions to consider when choosing a preschool. One of those mentioned was to take a preschool tour. Here are some pointers for when you take a tour.
Tips for Your Preschool Tour
Once you have narrowed your preschool search down to a few candidates, make an appointment for a tour. Ask if you’ll have a chance to speak with the teachers, staff and/or director. Take notes and ask questions. Here are some basic things to look for:
- Environment: Is it cheerful? Is artwork displayed on the walls? Are items labeled? Is it safe and clean? Does each preschooler have a cubby space to store items? Are the preschoolers happy and interacting? Is there a playground that’s safe and creative?
- Curriculum: How is the day structured? What are the activities? Is there free playtime? Any extra-curriculum activities?
- Teachers: Are the preschoolers engaged one-on-one or in groups with the other preschoolers? Do they encourage children to interact with each other and toys? Are they smiling?
- Parents: Are parents kept up-to-date on upcoming activities and events? How much parent involvement is required? Are there regular parent-teacher meetings? Does the preschool have an “open door” policy where parents can drop in any time to observe? Ask for references, i.e. parents who have children at that preschool, or perhaps a local kindergarten teacher who is familiar with preschools in the area.
- QUALITYstarsNY: a new state pilot program being tested in 13 communities offers a way to give “star” ratings to early childhood providers from at-home care to school-based pre-k. All licensed providers will start with one star. They can then earn points based on learning environment, parent engagement, staff qualifications, etc. The idea is that the rating system will encourage preschools to improve and provide parents a good tool for choosing a preschool. (www.qualitystarsny.org)
Nina Flanagan is a journalist and writer. She loves to interview people and weave a good story.