For part one of the How to Choose Preschool Series we covered collecting preschool phone numbers. Now that you have a list of numbers you may be wondering how to narrow that list down. Obviously you are not going to waste your time visiting 20 preschools. You can find out a lot about a preschool over the phone, and chances are you can eliminate half the list with a few good questions. Here is the list I used.
How to Choose a Preschool: Calling Around (what to ask)
As I told you before, I kept the list of preschool numbers in the same place. As I wrote them out, I recorded their name and number, leaving a space for my notes. Make sure you ask all of the questions on your list, even if one answer isn’t what you wanted to hear. Once you’ve finished calling, you may decide you need to reconsider a list item. Having thorough notes will help you remember exactly what you found with each school.
- How many children are in enrolled in your school? This is one area that will be a drastic difference between a Child Care Center(CCC) and a Home Family Child Care (HFCC).
- How many children are in each classroom? How many children is each teacher responsible for? (What is the Teacher:Child ratio?) My biggest lean towards HFCC is this one. In a CCC you will most likely find a ratio of 1:12. In a HFCC the ratio will be closer to 1:6.
- What are the hours of your preschool program? Some schools will offer morning and afternoon preschool programs. Some will offer MWF and TTH programs.
- Do you serve a snack or lunch? This may not be a big deal for you. . .or it might be. Some preschools ask for an additional snack fee, or require parents to pack a snack and lunch.
- Where are you located? Obviously you’ll need to know that.
- How long have you been teaching (or has your school been open)? HUGE DISCLAIMER. . . keep in mind that a brand new school has just as much potential to be right (or wrong) for you as a more established one.
- What is your educational background? Again, this is good to know but remember natural ability counts for something too.
- Do you teach religion? You’ll want to ask a few deeper questions depending on what you are looking for. What, how, and how often do they incorporate these teachings?
- What are your rates? It’s good to know this before you visit. Prices can vary greatly and you don’t want to fall in love with a school you simply can’t afford.
Once you’ve asked all of your questions, all that is left is to schedule an appointment. Make sure it’s at a time when there will be kids at the school and that your little one can join you!
Now that you know where you’re going, and when. . .how will you know what you’re looking at when you walk in the door? Part 3 The Visit (what to look for).
How to Choose a Preschool Series…Part 2 originally appeared on March 27, 2011.