15 Questions to ask when choosing a preschool

When it comes time to choosing a preschool for your child, there are many questions that you will want to ask the teachers. After all, this is an important decision that will affect your child’s education and future.

You’ve narrowed your list down to a few ideal preschools, your walkthroughs are booked… But now you’re wondering what exactly you should ask your preschool teacher during your first meeting. I’ve got you covered, friend!

Today I’m sharing a list of important questions to ask when choosing a preschool for your toddler. We will cover everything from before you go, during your walkthrough, and questions to reflect on after. So, here are 15 of the most important questions to ask, with some additional questions at the end of the post!

Early Childhood Education

It’s not a secret that I’m a big advocate of preschool education. If you want to see why there are a few other posts you may want to read (see below). They cover everything from when to start preschool, the benefits of preschool, and what to expect during your child’s schooling.

Before You Go

Before you head. to the school, there is an important question to ask yourself:

  1. What exactly do you hope to gain from your child’s education?

If you’re certain of your child’s specific needs and your own hopes, wants, and desires, it will be a lot easier for you to make an informed choice about which school to go with.

Day of: What to Ask The Teacher

I’ll separate this into a few different sections, but these are all worthwhile questions to ask during your preschool walkthrough.

About the Teaching Team

The preschool teachers’ training differs from facility to facility. It’s important to make sure that your child’s teacher has a quality education and enough experience to successfully teach the kiddos.

This isn’t to say that new teachers aren’t great – But they must at least have the proper education.

  1. What is your educational background? Or, are the teachers credentialed?
    • The teacher should have formal credentials and be adequately trained for working with young kids.
    • Also, ask if they have basic first aid! Safety is key.
  2. How long have you been teaching?
  3. What is your school’s educational philosophy?
    • You’re basically asking how the school approaches learning. Are they Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, or traditional? There may also be faith-based learning facilities in your area.
    • You might also ask about the curriculum here too if the teacher doesn’t address it.

The Preschool Program

  1. Is the school licensed?
    • This ensures that the school adequately meets the state’s basic health and safety requirements. If they cannot show the preschool’s license for some reason, you can contact the local social service department for confirmation.
  2. What is the student-teacher ratio?
    • The legal requirements of a teacher-student ratio varies from state to state and province to province, so if you’re unsure you can ask the teaching team, too.
    • If your child has exceptional needs and has an allocated support worker, ask them if this will be supported.
  3. What is the average class size?
  4. What is the schedule?
    • When asking this question, it’s important to recognize how much time the children have for play and outdoor time. Part of early childhood development is social skills and physical literacy. This is often done during free play time! Plus, they’re young. Their attention spans are short and they just need a break from learning.
    • On that note, too much free play isn’t good either. You’re not paying for a daycare, you’re paying for an educational program. Limited free time is a sign of a strong curriculum. Beware, though – Some things look like free time but are educationally planned. If you’re not sure, ask the teaching staff!
    • Looking at the schedule will also help you and your little one anticipate a typical day. Everything will be a new routine for them, so the more familiar with the routines you are the more you can support your child.
  5. Are there mixed age groups?
    • Some schools separate children who are at the same stage developmentally or that are the same age. While this makes sense, it can also be beneficial for older kids to work with the littles. This creates a relationship where the older students nurture younger kids through mentorship and collaborative learning and is great for social skill development.
  6. Do children have time for group and independent learning?

Routines/Expectations

  1. What is the drop-off and pick-up policy?
    • Be sure to give the information of other trusted adults too, in case you cannot make pickup one day.
  2. What are the school hours?
    • This is a pretty big schedule change! It’s important to make sure the preschool hours work with your schedule.
  3. Does my child need to be potty trained?
    • You will need to ask if potty training is a requirement because many preschools will not accommodate a preschooler still in diapers.
  4. What is the School’s Nutritional Approach?
    • If the school provides snacks, make sure that you are satisfied with the food provided. If not, ask if you can provide food of your own and store it in the fridge.
    • Some schools will not allow your child to bring ‘junk food’ or ‘unhealthy snacks,’ so be sure this is communicated if so. If your child has dietary needs that require you to bring sugary snacks, ask them if this is accommodated. Advocation for your child’s health is always important.
    • If your child has allergies, make sure that this can be accommodated too.
  5. How does your staff handle discipline?
    • It is so important to make sure that discipline is handled in a gentle and appropriate manner. The teachers are there to teach children the expectations and to understand the child’s development. At this age, arguments happen over small things. But, the team should have a solid plan for handling issues if and when they come up.

Other Questions to Ask

The above questions are ones I would recommend no matter what. These, on the other hand, are optional questions that you might consider asking your prospective teacher or the teacher assistants.

  1. Do you have a summer program?
    • If you’re hoping for the school to operate year-round, it’s worth asking now in case you have to secure a spot early. Some schools will offer summer camps or summer daycare. This way your little one won’t have to go to a different facility in the off-season.
  2. What is the level of parental involvement?
    • If you’re hoping to be involved in your child’s education during school hours, this may be important for you! The school might also host special events or fundraisers that they want help with, too.

Tips for During Your Walkthrough

Here are some tips for during your walkthrough with the teacher.

  • Picture your child learning in this space: Is it the ideal environment? Can you see them thriving?
  • Observe everything: What kinds of activities are the children doing? Watch how the school staff deals with behavioral issues. Is the adult-to-student ratio reflective of the answer they gave you earlier?
  • Safety: Playground safety is super important. So is having safe school grounds. Is the equipment maintained? Are the children properly supervised indoors?
  • Are the staff happy? Unhappy teachers are a worrisome sign. Be sure to feel out how the teaching team and try to assess whether they are content or not.
  • Chat with other parents if you can! There’s nothing like a first-hand experience to help guide you in your decision.

Conclusion

We truly help that these questions to ask when choosing a preschool have been helpful in getting you prepared to meet your teachers. By asking these 15 questions, you will learn a lot about the teacher’s training, and the school’s approach to learning. Their answers will also help you decide if the school’s philosophy aligns with your own child-rearing philosophy.

Whichever school you choose, congrats on this big step for your child! Preschool is an exciting new adventure.

Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson has her BA in International Relations with a minor in Spanish at UBC (Okanagan). She is currently in her second year of the Master of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with dreams of becoming an elementary-level teacher.

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