Choosing the right preschool for your child can be the biggest headache a parent can have. With the sea of options which exist, matching your child’s needs with the offerings of each preschool can be a challenge. To choose the right preschool, the best approach is to consider as many aspects as possible in three areas: what qualifications do the teachers have, what resources do they have, and what kind of “feel” does the place have. To answer the first two questions, a simple web search or telephone conversation may do. For the final question, however– a visit to the preschool is absolutely necessary.
Qualifications, Accreditations, and Training
When considering the school your son or daughter will be in during the day, the first step should be to research the school and teachers’ certifications, accreditations and qualifications. These provide the foundation of good programs, and so they are not to be overlooked. Find out if the school is licensed by the province, and if it has any accreditation or membership such as with a national governing body (ie: AMI Canada– Assn. Montessori International). Knowing what connections or affiliations the preschool has are key in knowing to whom the school is accountable. Affiliations act towards fulfilling a set of requirements around safety and program delivery. The regulations a preschool needs to follow are dictated by their licensing requirements. These influence the quality of class when it comes to developmentally-appropriate programming, access to outdoor play, adequate ratio for kids and teachers, and adequate equipment and space free of hazards.
Teacher training equips the teachers to engineer the programming and handle the daily activity of the preschool environment. What type of education each teacher has is therefore a very important consideration. Whether they have a degree, an ECE diploma or certificate will indicate how well-equipped they are to manage all the aspects of providing preschool care. Additionally, make sure to ask whether staff hold First Aid certificates, or any other certifications and trainings relevant to managing a childcare setting.
Added to this preliminary research, find out what other experience the teachers have, including their influence in the community, and their reputations by parents. The overall reputation of the school can also be investigated through simple google searches, keeping the above criteria in mind.