Choosing the right daycare or preschool where your kids will spend their days whether part-time or full-time, is a big decision. It can be stressful and scary but if you use this checklist to evaluate each school you’re considering, you’ll have all the information to make a confident decision for your child and your family.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
How far are you willing to travel to do drop-off and pick-ups? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? Look for a preschool or daycare within the mile radius and compile a list of those you’re most interested in. Ask your mom friends and neighbors to find out their top choices and opinions of the schools you’re considering. Read reviews and check the school grading and licensing system for your state.
VISIT EACH SCHOOL
The best thing you can do is schedule a time to visit each school. Try to do these visits within a week or two so that each place is fresh in your mind. If you can, bring your child or children with you and see it through their eyes. How are they greeted? Treated? Are they interested in the environment? Do they want to play with the other children and toys? Are they comfortable
FIND OUT INFORMATION
- Average years the teachers have been there
- Special education and experience with children having special needs
- Consistency of teachers assigned to your child’s classroom – will each day be different or the same each day?
How are days structured?
- Ask for a sample schedule
- How are naps taken? When?
- What supplies do they provide/you provide for nap times and extra clothes, supplies, etc?
- Sick policies
- Vacation policies
- Early drop-off / Pick-up policies
- What are cold/snowy weather policies & closure policies
- School closures – pre-assigned closure dates you need to know
- What are the expectations for parent involvement?
- Is there any fundraising on monetary donations involved? Supplies to be purchased?
- What, if any holidays, does the school recognize/celebrate? Can parents participate?
- Arts and crafts? (believe it or not, some schools don’t do arts and crafts)
- Physical activity – daily basis?
- Are snacks provided? What is served?
- Is lunch provided or able to opt in on a need-be basis?
- Is there a calendar for snack/lunch options?
- Health food guidelines – Organic? GMO free?
- Are there any food restrictions you need to be aware of for providing food?
- How do they handle food allergies?
- When is payment due?
- Enrollment fee?
- Pricing – is there a sibling discount?
- Security – what security measures are in place?
- Holidays and school days off
- History of State Inspections – Any complaints or disciplinary actions?
Once you find out the answers to all of these questions and you see each school in person, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the school you’re leaning towards. YOU know your babe better than anyone else – where is going to be the best fit for him? What culture and schedule is she going to fit into the most? Does the school’s times and systems work well for your family? Most importantly, trust your gut and follow your instincts!
Once you enroll your child, make unexpected drop-ins to check in and observe, especially if they can’t speak for themselves yet. A quality school will welcome drop-ins and even encourage it.