Over the years I have been asked by many friends to help them decide which preschool or daycare to send their children to. As a former preschool teacher and childcare center director I have a few tips to share with them and you.
Use all 5 senses when you go on a tour of the school/ facility.
1. Sight - what do you see? Are the teachers on the floor playing, teaching and interacting with the kids? Do you see posted emergency procedures, exits and first aid kits?Do you see things in the way of the exits? Do you see children's art work on the walls proudly displayed? Do you see lots of books?
2. Sound - what do you hear? Do you hear a lot of yelling? Do you hear children fighting without positive interventions made by teachers? Do you hear music, laughing , and learning going on?
3. Touch - what do you feel? Do you feel soft places to rest? Do you feel fun places to explore outside? More abstractly what does your gut say? Feeling confidence in your children's care givers is priceless, do not ignore your gut.
4. Smell - is the facility clean? Are diapers taken care of quickly and in a hygienic way? What about the bathrooms? If food is provided does the kitchen smell clean too?
5. Taste - at the very least look at the menu if food is provided , would you want to eat it? If able taste it. Is it healthy?
Beyond using all five senses, here are some crucial questions to ask.
How frequent is staff turnover? How is your staff trained? Do they have any on going training once hired? Are background checks done ( they are a MUST)? Who other than teachers are in the classroom, are background checks done on them, are they left alone with kids ever ? What are your payment policies? What about sick days ( if teachers get sick), How do they handle discipline issues? What is your security procedures ( both emergency and for things like pick up and drop off).
Finally - Is there an open door policy for parents? If there isn't run away, parents should always be welcome at any time.