A great deal of thought and consideration goes into selecting a quality preschool for your child. Experts say that the most important component of quality preschool is warm, nurturing teachers and caregivers. Quality preschool also includes the children’s day-to-day experiences as well as safe environments in which children can engage in interesting activities.
As you look for the right preschool, I recommend that you visit several different types of programs and bring your child with you when you visit. Trust your intuition. Continue your search until you find the right program for you and your child.
When you visit, ask yourself:
1. Does my child seem happy here? Do I feel welcome here? Do I feel comfortable asking questions?
2. Do caregivers appear to enjoy playing and talking with children? Did they get down to the child’s eye level to talk and play? Do children get individual attention?
3. Do children appear to enjoy being together? Are children playing and working with materials? Do children seem to enjoy being at school?
4. Is this an inviting learning environment? Are children engaged in activities? Will my child have an opportunity to learn about things he/she is interested in?
5. Do children have access to various activities throughout the day? Can they choose what they want to do? (Hint: Look for assorted building blocks and other construction materials, props for pretend play, picture books, paints and other art materials, and table toys such as matching games, pegboards and puzzles.)
6. Do children have access to books in a variety of different areas of the room? Are children encouraged to look at books? Do teachers read to children individually or in small groups throughout the day, not just at group story time.
7. Is the room decorated with children’s original artwork, their own writing with invented spelling, and stories dictated by children to teachers?
8. Is it easy for children to use the toilet and wash their hands throughout the day?
9. Are children offered a variety of healthy foods for snack and lunch?
10. Are indoor and outdoor spaces clean and organized? Do children have opportunities for outdoor play every day?
If you have said “yes” to most of these questions, it is likely you have found the right program for your child!
For more information about choosing a quality preschool for your child, contact the Contra Costa Child Care Council.