Given the numerous studies that have shown the positive effects of high-quality early childhood education, there’s really no debate as to whether the benefits of pre kindergarten or preschool exist. The question, then, is how to choose the best preschool program for your child. One of the best ways you can do that is by asking the right questions when you interview preschool directors. Here are five you won’t want to forget:
- What Is the School’s Educational Philosophy?
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the major educational philosophies that tend to influence preschools, such as the Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Waldorf approaches. Some schools will be strongly attached to one philosophy, while others will mix and match or create their own.
- What Will My Child Actually Do All Day?
One way to make sure a school actually sticks to the early educational philosophy it espouses is to ask about daily activities. Ideally, there should be lots of time for free play and outdoor activity, which allow young children to develop their coordination, motor skills, creativity and cooperative skills. More academic goals can be OK too, as long as they’re not accomplished through repetitive drills or exercises that don’t work well with young kids.
- What Are the Teachers’ Qualifications?
There are actually very few regulatory requirements placed on schools in terms of who can teach preschool, which means teaching quality may be vastly varied among different schools. Ask how teachers are chosen, what education and experience they’re required to have, and how much turnover there is.
- What Is the Disciplinary Model/Process?
There will always be some misbehavior and disruption in a group of young kids, but the way a school responds to children who act out of turn speaks volumes as to how they view children overall. Children need to be taught how to interact well in a group, but schools that are overly harsh with children or shame them can end up damaging a child’s confidence and self-esteem.
- What Is Typical Parental Involvement Like?
It’s important that your child’s school is a good fit for you, as well. Some schools expect parents to be more involved than others. Children tend to do better when their parents are involved in their schooling — and home life has a tremendous impact on social and educational achievement — but you also need to make sure the school won’t make demands you can’t meet because of work or other commitments.
What other questions might parents want to ask when choosing a school? Share your ideas in the comments.