Local preschool programs play a huge role in the lives of countless families. For young students, the chance to learn in a preschool classroom can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on their development. Between 1993 and 2012, the percentage of three- to six-year-olds able to recognize all the letters in the alphabet increased from 21% to 38%, and the percentage of those able to count to 20 or higher rose from 52% to 68%. This difference can be at least partially attributed to the growing popularity of preschool programs in the United States.
In order for your child to reap the benefits of preschool, you’ll first need to decide which program is right for them. There are countless factors to consider here, like the program’s philosophy, the cost, the location, and the reputation of the school itself. When you tour a preschool, you’ll have the opportunity to see a facility for yourself, meet with staff members, and ask any questions you may have pertaining to the routines or requirements for preschool children. However, when you tour a preschool, you’ll also want to keep an eye and ear out for the following:
Staff qualifications are important, but you’ll also want to observe their interactions with students and with each other. Ask yourself whether they seem overwhelmed or too busy to really give the students their attention. How do they speak to the children in their class? Has there been a lot of staff turnover? Have many of the teachers been there for many years? Do they seem burned out, or are they cheerful, welcoming, and tolerant? In many cases, these behaviors matter just as much (or sometimes more) than their experience in the field; really, it needs to be a show AND tell situation.
While not every preschool student will be a poster child for good behavior, their actions can give you a sense of how they feel about their surroundings. When you tour a preschool, discern whether the students seem generally happy and engaged in what’s going on around them. If several students are upset or are fighting over toys or games, this might indicate that the teacher doesn’t have control over the class. Do the children know how to put items away? Do they welcome others into the fold? If so, this will likely show that the teacher has instilled good habits and promoted tolerance among their students.
Sense of Community
When most parents tour a preschool, they’ll want to decide whether there’s a true sense of community there. It’s not just about academics, though the classroom learning component is important. Preschool students need to feel a sense of belonging — and their parents do, too. You may want to observe the student drop-off in the morning to see this for yourself. Are all parents and children welcomed as they come in to the school? Who provides assistance for morning drop-off time? And what happens if a child has a tough time separating from their parents? If teachers and staff are nowhere to be found, that’s not a good sign. When children go into their classrooms that morning, are there lots of activities they can participate in? How do their teachers behave when they arrive? And what efforts are made to make each class feel like one part of the community as a whole? Be sure to answer these questions to gain a better understanding of what it’d be like if your family decides this is the right preschool center for your child.
While these are by no means the only things to look for during a preschool tour, these elements can tell you a lot about how happy your family will be once you enroll. To find out more about touring our facility, please contact us today.