Content brought to you by Excellent Schools Detroit
Picking a quality preschool program that's perfect for your tot can be done in a few easy steps. But now that you've done the research and selected a few programs in your area, the last step is to pay a visit to evaluate the program for yourself in person.
So what should you look for when you visit? Are there certain questions you should ask while there? You bet. We've put together this checklist for parents with information from the following local experts and resources to help you out:
- Denise Smith, vice president of early learning at Excellent Schools Detroit
- Toni Hartke, director of Wayne County Great Start Collaborative
- Monica Duncan, Michigan regional director of First Children's Finance
- "A Parent's Guide to Early Learning & Care in Michigan" brochure from Great Start
Questions and observations
- Are there items – pictures, posters, etc. – at the children's eye level?
- Are there areas of interest for the kids, like specific science and art exploration areas?
- Is there a routine? Young children really need routine and repetition. You can ask if there is, but it's also good to observe. There should be a warning ahead of time when kids transition from activity to activity.
- Are there "professional development opportunities" for the staff?
- Do you see the facility's license?
- Is the environment clean and safe?
- Are the adults and children interacting with each other?
- Are kids bringing food in or is food being served? If being served, does it appear wholesome and nutritious?
- How are the children being grouped, if there are different age groups in the class?
- What's the child-to-adult ratio?
- Are there nap times? Is there a balance between active and quiet times?
- Ask if the instructors do assessments of the students and their development.
- Does the facility have information packets ready for parents?
- Do they seem organized?
- When asking the instructors questions, are they defensive or offended by certain questions?
- What qualifications do the instructors have? Get tips on what to look for in the "Tips For Picking The Perfect Preschool" feature (link to perfect preschool story)
- When can parents visit?
- How much do they charge?
- How does the provider discipline, if they do?
- Do those working at the facility have up-to-date CPR/first aid training?
- See if you can talk to other parents about how they and their child like the program and facility.
Get a printable checklist you can fill out before and during your preschool search. Visit this list on Great Start CONNECT. Bonus: The checklist comes in Spanish and a mobile version, too!