Questions to Ask When You’re Looking for a Preschool

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Info By: Micki Sommerman

Edited By: Stephanie Boron, M.S., CCC-SLP

Yes – it’s January, but something funny is happening — swim suits are showing up in stores and enrollment packets for next fall’s preschool session are being distributed. It’s hard to believe, but now is the time to start to think about if your kiddo will be attending preschool next year, and if so, where.

Here are some considerations and questions to ask as you visit preschools in your area.

Before we even get to the questions — yes, I did say visit. You need to actually set foot inside a space before deciding. Preschools are used to parents asking to tour their facility, so don’t be bashful. This will be the best way to get a vibe for the preschool environment and the staff. You know your child best and you know what they need to be successful.

You may also want to consider your child’s individual profile before pursuing preschool. Are they ready? Think about their age, readiness to separate from you, etc. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapeutic team for more input your child’s school readiness.

Questions to Ask:

  • What is the program’s schedule? How many days per week? How many hours?
  • What’s the policy on toilet training?
    • Note: Some programs allow all children regardless of being toilet trained. Some require that kiddos be toilet trained before they can be admitted.
  • What if my child needs an aid? Who finds, hires, and pays for the aid?
  • What is the class size and teacher/child ratio? Is there a cap for the maximum amount of children in a class?
    • Note: Generally, smaller groups are better. Some parents wonder if a larger group might be ok because the ratio allows for more teachers, but some kids are overwhelmed by crowded environments and/or lots of voices. As a rule of thumb, consider how your child does at loud parties. If this isn’t a problem, you might have more flexibility in choosing a program with a larger group size (and more teachers). If this is an area of difficulty for your child (perhaps based on language processing, regulation, etc.), you might want to consider seeking out a program with a smaller max class size.
  • What is the education/background of the teachers in this program?
  • What is the separation/entry plan for all kids?
    • Note: Many programs have a separation/entry plan for all children regardless of their level of difficulty with separating form their caretakers. This might look like shortened sessions and/or smaller group sizes for the first couple of weeks. This is good for all children in the program. This allows for kids who need to work on separation to do, and it may allow for your child to get to know their peers and teachers more easily since there’s often a smaller group of kids present during these periods of time.
      • Also note that these plans typically happen every year, not just your child’s first year.
    • Day to day, some programs have different drop-off plans (e.g., caretaker walks the child in, caretaker drops off from the car). Be sure to find out what their plan is.
  • What is the policy regarding parents staying if the child needs help?
    • Ask if this is allowed and for how long? Some programs may only allow this on the first day or two, while others may allow parents to stay beyond that time if needed.
  • What’s the curriculum of the program? Developmental/play-based? Montessori? Waldorf? Reggio? Etc…
    • Don’t worry — we’ll do a follow-up blog post describing some of these preschool philosophies, but in the mean time, be sure to ask the preschool you’re visiting to describe their style to you in a way that you clearly understand.

Last, and most important of all — do a gut check. You’re the expert on your child. If you felt comfortable in the preschool environment and your gut is telling you that the program would be a good fit for your child, you’re probably right. Follow your gut.

For many kids, preschool can be challenging, even with the best possible fit. For some families, our Penguin groups might be a good option in place of or in addition to preschool. Penguin Playgroups are therapeutic play groups for pre-school and kindergarten-aged children who demonstrate challenges in social, developmental, language, and/or sensory processing skills. The groups consist of up to four children and are led by two certified professionals with speech-language pathology and occupational therapy consults.

For more information about school selection or Penguins, you can reach out to Micki Sommermam (847-663-1020 Ext. 115). You can also email Stephanie at sboronslp@gmail.com.

***Many of these questions are also helpful when searching for a summer camp. We’ll be doing a post soon about additional questions that may be helpful for camp hunting. Be sure to check back often!

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One thought on “Questions to Ask When You’re Looking for a Preschool

  1. Pingback: Questions to Ask when You’re Looking for a Summer Camp | BOA Play Space

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