by Michael Petrucelli, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Darien, IL
As seen in Suburban Life Magazine
Selecting your child’s first school may be one of the most exciting, yet intimidating decisions that you will have to make. Children in quality preschool programs improve their social skills, are better at following directions, waiting turns, problem-solving, participating in activities, collaborating, and relating to other children, teachers and parents. In addition to providing a warm, safe, and nurturing environment, a top quality preschool program should provide a well-rounded experience that helps children become confident, joyful and fully prepared students, while developing a life-long love of learning.
There are a variety of teaching philosophies that you will learn about as you research child-care options. Many may seem difficult to apply to a young child where things like safety and security may be your primary concerns. Terms you may hear include: Reggio Emilia approach, Montessori Method, Activity or Play Based Learning, Waldorf approach, and others. The common theme is that all of these methods should focus on children as individuals, getting them enthused about learning, and having them prepared for kindergarten and beyond.
Some important questions to ask before, during, and after a visit to the school:
- Is there a warm and nurturing atmosphere in a physical environment that you can envision your child in?
- Are there safety and security measures in place that are followed, practiced, and actively reviewed?
- Are there health and safety standards in place, and what is the “wellness” policy?
- Does it offer a wide range of enriching activities to meet the individual needs of each child including a focus on building each child’s emotional, social, cognitive and physical skills?
- What size are the classes and what is the student teacher ratio in the different classrooms?
- Is the school convenient to your work or home? Happy parents help make happy children.
- Are there age appropriate outdoor play areas that are maintained in a safe condition? Does it offer multi-cultural and developmentally appropriate materials and equipment, and do you feel a sense of respect for diversity and respect for various cultures?
- Is there a professional faculty committed to early childhood development, and do they have access to on-going training and continuing education credits?
- Are the teachers CPR and first aid certified?
- Can I visit my child any time during the day?
- Does the school have references available?
- Do you feel a sense of community among the teachers and parents in the building?
Choosing childcare is a very personal decision in which there are no right or wrong answers. Do your best though to ask the right questions.