WHAT TO DISCUSS ON YOUR VISIT
Toilet Training – This is crucial, as some schools require children to be trained by the time they enroll. Most Pre-K and camps require toilet training, but day care and preschools tend to be more flexible. If your child is not yet trained, make sure your child’s teacher is willing to work with both you and your child.
- If your child has food allergies, ask how the school handles them. Otherwise, find out if the school maintains preparation requirements for certain foods, i.e. grapes cut vertically to avoid choking, or restricted foods (some schools bar peanut butter since it presents a choking hazard).
Germs - Because the flu is so rampant, consider germs and how they might be transmitted. Look into the school’s hand washing/sanitizing policy, and also inquire about sharing snacks. Is it allowed?
Sick child policy – What symptoms must children exhibit to stay home or be sent home?
New student policy – Are parents encouraged to observe for the first few days? Or is there a rapid drop-off approach? Consider what works best for your child, and prepare accordingly.
What gets a child expelled? – Some schools are stricter than others when it comes to behavioral issues. Ask how they handle children who hit, throw things or bite. What is their general disciplinary policy? Is it in line with your own?
Early withdrawal policy – Be aware of this, just in case you enroll your child then have a change of heart or an unexpected move.
Teacher to student ratio
– Teacher to student ratio is important, because it reflects how much adult supervision and attention your child will receive. The National Association for the Education of Young Children goves the following guidelines for teacher to student ratio: For 3-year-olds, the ratio must be 1 to 7. For 4- and 5-year-olds class, the ratio must be 1 to 8. There aren’t guidelines for kids under 3, but as a parent, my feeling is that the ratio should be 1 to 7 or better.
Licensing - Teaching requirements vary state to state, but most are certified through a certificate program or rigorous degree program.
Usually teachers are required to complete additional yearly classes to maintain their certification. First aid and CPR training is often required.
Most states don’t require the school to have a license, although licenses are available. If a school has a license, it guarantees that the facility has adequate space and staff and meets state safety requirements. Visit the Right Choice for Kids site to search for state licensed schools in your area.
- The school should provide physical activity, time outdoors, quiet time, group and individual activities, socializing, crafts, imaginative play, snacks and free time, among other necessitites. The curriculum should also evolve over time, enriching your child's abilities. Look for a program that encourages individuality and creativity.