Interviewing Preschools

Anya really wants to go to preschool. And, yeah, I know 99% of her desire is “Daniel Tiger goes to preschool, and I love Daniel Tiger. Ergo, I love preschool”. But learning to be around other people is one skill she cannot learn at home. So we’ve begun interviewing different preschools in the area.

What is educational philosophy? How is learning encouraged?
What is the learning style (indirect learning, academic based, blended?)
If academics (reading, maths, etc) are introduced, how so and at what ages? Letters and numbers should be introduced by her age. Especially the spelling of her name.
How are parents involved in the school? Are parents encouraged to volunteer in the classroom? For special events? Are there service requirements or opportunities (and if requirements, what happens if parents are unable to meet requirements)?
Is there more focus on group or individual learning? You will find the tendency is toward group learning.
How is discipline handled? What is the policy for children who cause injury to others (biting, etc)? How are repeat offenders addressed?
How are problems resolved between students (kids work it out themselves, class meeting to discuss, teacher intervention)?
How is growth measured and reported? With what frequency are parents informed of these results?
What is the educational success criterion (i.e. what should we expect kids learn in each level)?

Are teachers credentialed? BS/MS? Child Development Associate? Early Childhood Development degree required and should be what you look. Don’t go for anything beyond early elementary because they are not taught how to effectively work/deal with children of this age group.
Is continuing education required or encouraged? Like all professionals, it should be.
How many staff are trained in first aid? CPR certified? Additional medical training?
What is the turnover rate for teachers?

What is the class size (student:teacher ratio and child:adult ratio)? Check out your state minimum requirements Ohio’s requirements follow…
Are classes age-specific or mixed?
How is the day structured? What portion of the day is free play?
Is there a fixed schedule (if so, is a copy available)?
What indoor physical play facilities are available?
What outdoor physical play facilities are available?
Snacks – Are snacks provided by the parents or school? What dietary principals are followed? What accommodations made for special diets (vegetarian in our case, but in general too)?
Are there supplemental activities (trips)? If so, frequency & examples.
Are there outside parties coming into the classroom for supplemental activities? If so, frequency & examples.

Is enrollment rolling or fixed date? If fixed, what is the deadline.
What is the process for late arrival or pickups or early pickups?
Are any allergens prohibited in the school?
What is the dress code?

What can we do to prepare Anya for preschool?
Can we schedule a time to observe a class?

Class Observation:
Are the teachers getting down to the children’s level to talk with them or yelling across the playground?
Are the rooms organized and show children’s recent artwork? recent work?
Are there areas to play inside and outside?
Are there different activity stations in the classrooms? Are children interested in and using the stations? Ask if the stations varied throughout the year or are they static?
What is the general feel of the place? Ideally observe a full class day. If that is impossible, observe toward the end of class as that is when most classroom problems occur.) Are the students happy and busily engaged?

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