January 12, 2009,
A.C. asks from Mount Bethel, PA on December 14, 2008
Pre-School Interview Questions
My son is going to be 3 in January. I am thinking that I need to start looking at pre-schools. Any tips for interviewing the preschools/learning centers? Since this is my first child I am not sure what I really need to look for when I go to see what they are all about. Thanks in advance!!
1 mom found this helpful
K.N. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
my little guy is in year 2 of preschool...
biggest thing is go with your gut when you walk into the preschool...how do you feel?
some of the questions we asked was:
- What is their philosophy of education.
- What discipline techniques do they use?
- what are their postive reinforcement techniques?
- copy of the curriculum
- how is drop off handled? do you go in with child?
-does the teacher/aide get down to child's level and greet them/talk to them?
-how long has the teacher been teaching? if younger ask them their goals in education...or are they there just for the jb or do they have a passion for kids/education
-how is the room decorated? are there activity centers? computers? dress up for role play? kitchen set? blocks?
- emergency plan? do they call an ambulance or does a staff member take the child to the hospital
-are the teachers and staff CPR/first aid trained - also if allergies are an issue - epi pen trained
- do they have fire drills
-what is their close policy for inclement weather? Is there another space they can take the kids into if there is an emergency? like a basement
what time is drop off pick up and at what time does the first structured activity start-make sure there is not too much lag time.
- if they notice a child is struggling or can do something with ease - how do they keep the child engaged? How does the teacher give added value to the lesson?
-are the teachers certified
-what is the ratio NJ is 1:12 pretty sure - in my opinion is crazy!
-what is the turnover...how many different teachers/aides have been in the class over the last year...do not be suprised but it seems it is a revolving door for preschool
-what is the max # of kids they would have in the class
-do they provide the snack or do you - what are they offering?
-do the kids in the class look happy and engaged?
-are the toys current and clean? age appropriate?
- get examples of hand out and worksheets
- what is their goal for each child by the end of the pre K program - we looked for reading readiness
- field trips? can parents accompany the child
- what is the invovlement? will you be expected to provide items/be at parties/etc...my son's preschool it is a minimum-which at first I did not like but it is for the best in my opinion
-how much time to they play outside? is the ground cover soft?
- do they celebrate all holidays? talk about current events?
- what is their policy on sickness?
- cost? do you pay even if you do not attend or on vacation? My son's pre K is $25/day for 3 hrs 3 days a week
-check out bathrooms..if they are not in the classroom who goes with them? Plenty of soap?
-what kind of arts and crafts do they complete - how do the supplies look?
One of the best things to do is...when you narrow it down...go to the parking lot around drop off time and approach the moms/dads after they drop off the child and just ask them how they feel about the preschool and would they recommend it -
guess I sound like a crazy mom, huh? ha ha ha
just feel like you are paying for a service and you want your child to be safe, happy and engaged - this is their first experience with school and you want it to be positive. Warning you will never be 100% happy with everything - wo you will need to weigh what is important to you.
1 mom found this helpful
G.B. answers from Harrisburg on December 15, 2008
There are a lot of questions that are listed on parenting websites and magazines to ask, but you will also want to look closely at each class- watch for teacher/child interaction and the general disposition of the class. There will never be a perfect room but you can sense whether the children are comfortable with each other and the teachers. This is your most precious gift- make sure you find a place that understands how precious each child is.
A.M. answers from Scranton on December 15, 2008
Ask how many Keystone Stars they have...that's a rating system for the quality of their curriculum and overall care.
Ask about certifications of staff...do any of them have degrees in early childhood education? Are they certified in CPR, do they have clearances and fingerprints on file?
Ask what curriculum they follow-and then hop online and look it up...there are MANY different curriculums they can follow, but make sure they have something in place?
How do they keep the building secure? What is the turnaround of staff (this is going to likely be an issue no matter where you go, since they are never paid what they are truly worth).
Hours, sick policies...etc. A good center will answer all of these questions for you before you even ask. Call around, go on some tours. There should be someone you can call in your county to ask for a list of centers in your area that match your criteria. I know that when we first looked around for our older daughter, we called a number someone gave us, and they asked a bunch of questions as to whether we wanted a center/in home daycare, etc. There were several questions...then they sent us a packet with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the places that matched our criteria...and a little blurb about each place (and a web address if the place had one). That was really helpful. My girls go to a wonderful place in our area.
A.B. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
I taught preschool for 8 years and am now a kindergarten teacher and a mother of a 4 year old and an 8 month old. I know parents want their children to be learning and reading and writing but don't hurry your child. Kindergarten is the new first grade. Questions I have asked or been asked: Do you read stories regularly? Do the children go outside at any point and what do they do? Will the children be learning colors, shapes, numbers and letters? How do you go about that? Is there nap time? Do you provide snacks? How do you handle behavior issues? What do you do if someone other than me picks up my child? Do the children watch tv?
hope this helps
R.M. answers from Allentown on January 12, 2009
I am a pre-school teacher and not only do you want to see what your child will be learning all day, you want to see a schedule or see if you can attend a class. Get parent reviews. Before i started teaching you have no idea how many teachers wow you and they allow the children to play all day, learning nothing at all.
It is amazing how much the children can learn if they encouraged by an excited teacher. Good luck, and remember to go by your instints.
T.S. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
I would look at the emphasis the place puts on developmental learning vs. academic learning, and run from any place emphasizing academic learning at that age. Developmental preschools acknowledge that there is a lot to be learned through "play." Also, I would look at the artwork on the walls. Does it look like the children were the artistic directors, or are the placements of things too perfect for a 2 yr old to do...that is, are the teachers controlling the artwork? That can vary from teacher to teacher, as it did at my children's preschool. (I always went for the ones that let my children be artistic.) If you have concerns or constraints about hours, as that, but I think you best bet would be to talk to other parents...ask everyone you know if they know people who have attended the preschools you're looking at, and see if you can talk to those families. Good luck!
T.M. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
Does your local highschool have a program? Ours was the child development program. It has been a preschool for at least 20 years or so. That was the choice i made for all of my kids. The teachers and highschool students came up with the most unique things for the kids. They had little experiments, songs and dance, sports, arts...anything you can imagine. They even assigned your child a "buddy", this person would walk your child to and from your car and help him/her throughout the day.
Hope i helped...i cannot say enough wonderful things about this kind of program!
S.E. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
When my daughters were that age and I started the interviewing process I went to one school with my three year old in tow and they told me she wasn't allowed on the tour. Strike them off..... Then I went to one where all of the children where happily engaged in various tasks and I asked, "Can my daughter go ahead and play with the other children while we talk?" The woman looked at me like I had two heads and said very haughtily - "Our children do not PLAY!" I said OK then all done here!
The others gave you very good advice and I would follow all of it, but I would also trust your mommy gut. Are you comfortable leaving your child there? Do you feel like these people LIKE children? Do the kids there seem happy??
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on December 15, 2008
My son went to a small church-based nursery school and preschool. It was highly recommended and the teachers were great. He was a shyer kid so the small class size was good for him. Look into the Kindergarten program in your school district and ask if they are getting the kids ready for those milestones. I agree, go with your gut feelings about the school/teachers/etc. I couldn't have asked for more loving & caring teachers for my son's first exposure to school.
L.T. answers from Pittsburgh on December 15, 2008
In addition to what Heather mentioned you might want to ask about safety issues such as measures to keep kids in the building and others out as well as ensuring that your child never leaves with anyone except those you designate. What is their curriculum like? How is the day structured? How do they handle behavior/discipline issues? If your child has any special needs, how can the center accomodate them?
Y.H. answers from Hartford on December 16, 2008
hello A., if you go to www.kindercare.com they have a link for questions to be asked. I have found it very helpful myself and found them geared to any daycare not just that one. I was a pre-school teacher in the past and agreed with them. Also try to just stop by instead of making appt. over the phone. also check out the emergency exits especially now that snow is falling, are they being cleared? hope this helps,Y.
H. answers from Pittsburgh on December 14, 2008
I am a previous Pre-K/Elementary teacher (now SAHM). One easy indicator of a good school is to find out if it is NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditted. They have a very strict process with requirements that are often more stringent than state minimum standards. You can ask them, though it takes quite a bit of work to acheive this accreditation so most display the accreditation so that you can quickly notice it. You can go to the NAEYC website and search for accreditted programs in your area. The schools have to go through a renewal/inspection process regularly and if problems are found, they do not get to keep the accreditation.
You should ask for a tour and a general overview of the program. You want to find a center that appears generally clean, plenty of play materials, appropriately sized furniture and easily accessible restrooms. Ask about potty training requirements as different programs will require this at certain ages. Ask about ratio of teachers to students - the smaller the better. For 3's you would like to see about 7-1. It is ideal if you have a larger class with multiple teachers for the class to be broken into smaller groups for activities. They may do a circle time together, eat a snack all together and play outside together, but they should have small groups for other lessons/activities. Look for teachers interacting with students and listen for happy sounds. A preschool is not a quiet place. There should be plenty of time in the day for children to explore and play with minimal direction. You also want them to have large motor opportunities daily - indoors or out. Finally, you want to feel comfortable with everything you see, hear and learn. Trust your gut.
J.G. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
My daughter will be 3 in March so I am going through this right now also. Ask other mom's in your area so you can find a preschool with a good reputation. The preschool should be willing to give you a tour of the facility. I was looking at one preschool that wouldn't give me a tour before registration so I thought they had something to hide. Ask what the turnover of teachers is. If the teachers are always leaving and they are needing to replace teachers that may be a bad sign. Make sure it is clean and safe and that they encourage handwashing. You may also want to find out what their sick policy is. I found you can learn a lot about a preschool by getting a copy of their handbook.
E.S. answers from Pittsburgh on December 15, 2008
My kids never went to an actual pre-school. Their daycare program worked on a pre-school curriculum once they hit the 3 and 4 yo mark. So my recommendation would be first off, location and hours of school (morning vs. afternoon). My next criteria would be how your son reacts to a visit there. I had a friend who was considering transferring her son to my daycare, but when she brought him for a visit, he cowered and was very upset. Turns out he didn't like having all those kids there and it was too noisy for him. But when I looked into it and brought my 1st for a visit I couldn't get him to come home!
M.C. answers from Philadelphia on December 15, 2008
First, a bit of advice. If your son is not yet potty-trained, you'll probably want to do that first as many pre-schools require it. Second, if you have friends with similar-aged children, just ask around! Other than that, I'd just advise to bring your child with you and see how he reacts there and how the staff interact with him. That, to me, was the most important factor in making my decision.
You may want to ask questions about the staff/child ratio, the staff turnover rate, and maybe the daily schedule. Just a few ideas! Hope they were helpful!