With so many choices and so many factors how can parents ever feel confident in their decision about their child's first education experience - preschool? It's important to consider teaching methods, philosophy, environment, location and your calendar. Don't forget to pay attention to the protocol for drop off and possible separation struggles. Oh, and the potty training! Once safety is put at the very top of that list, it conveniently weeds out the majority of options making the right preschool more clear. But how do we do that?
Ask too many questions. Know your priorities and have questions ready. You are interviewing service providers and have the right to make an informed decision. Put safety on the top of your list and be sure any provider you consider does, too. Ask about policies and procedures, behavioral concerns and emergencies. Include uncomfortable questions, especially about bathroom practices. You can get question ideas from here...
Gavin de Becker & Associates
Leading experts on prediction and prevention of violence. Provide a list of suggested questions for your child's school.
Pay Attention to location and layout of the school. Where is the nearest hospital? Fire station? Police Station? Is it easy to get in and out of the parking lot? How many entrances and exits are there? Can the building be easily vacated in an emergency? Can your child be watched by outsiders while at school? Are there cameras?
Ask for references and look for reviews. Ask for a list of references and CONTACT THEM. Make a list of questions for them, too. How old are the references? Were they ever concerned about safety? Look up reviews of the schools you are considering. Take the time to especially read the bad or negative reviews.
Trust Your Gut. You have a lifetime of experience of what has been safe; that means you know when things are not safe, too. Concern, fear, intuition, apprehension, hesitation, or any unsure or unsettled feeling is your gut telling you something is not right. When it comes to safety your gut, not logic, will keep your family safe.
Give Yourself Permission to Make Safe Choices. Safety is inconvenient, and it can look ridiculous. But if you’ve done the above, you know how you feel about your options. Know that often the safe choice isn’t always the popular choice. But we can make that decision anyway because what is worth more than our child’s safety.
The first school of your little one's career in education isn't a decision to take lightly. Hopefully these suggestions give you the information and permission you need to put effort in the right places so you feel confident with your choices for your family.
Some ADDITIONAL RESOURCES that might be helpful include...