Questions to Ask When Choosing Pre-Schools for Your Child

1. What is the schedule of activities?

I like to know that if I’m paying someone to be with my child for half a day that they have a plan of things to do with him so that he’s learning. He’s 3 now and I am expecting more than just a babysitter when I send him to pre-school. Schedules filled with play time and no learning or outside time worry me.

2. What happens if my child were to get in trouble (i.e. your disciplining techniques)?

No, don’t spank my child but if you yell at him, I’m going to be upset, too. You say these people are trained to handle children socially and educationally. Present me with a discipline method you use which has proven to be effective without shredding a young boy’s self esteem.

3. How are meals handled?

At the pre-school we have our son slated to start in September, they don’t offer cafeteria meals so you have to bring your own lunch. I asked if they would heat food and if they offer beverages during snack time. My son doesn’t eat sandwiches so if I cook for him and send it in his lunchbox, I want it to be stored properly for when he’s ready to eat it. And if you don’t offer milk, I want to know so I can bring my own.

4. What security systems do you have in place?

Given all the gun control issues heating up conversations in America lately, this seems like a valid question. But I had it in my mind before any of the shootings. Someone can walk into any facility with a knife and then what? I want to know if everyone has to buzz in to get to where my child is at or if there are loopholes for the adjoining building, visitors and staff of other departments not related to the pre-school.

5. How are potty-training and bathroom breaks handled?

My son may or may not be fully potty trained by the time September comes. But they don’t lock the doors at his age. What about privacy? I don’t want anyone to walk in on him while he’s in the potty like the janitor did with me when I was in preschool. The adminstration said they will let the teacher know to pay close attention to when my son uses the bathroom but I think they should afford the same privilege to other kids, too.

6. How many kids are there per teacher?

I don’t want an overwhelmed teacher that has 17 kids to be watching my son because I imagine how that will go and I’ll regret bringing him here. Please let me know that there is help being offered in each classroom so the kids receive the attention they deserve.

7. How do I make special requests?

I don’t want people taking my son’s pictures. I also don’t want anyone picking up my son unless they have written permission from me. I don’t care about your code words. They are not secure enough, especially if you have them written on a paper. I was told they could accommodate these requests…

8. What are the late fees?

Let me know if I’ll be paying $5 for every minute late or $1 for every minute late. And what I’ll have to pay if I miss tuition by chance.

9. Do you have insurance on this facility?

It turns out you can’t sue daycares or preschools unless they have insurance. I bet no one told you that. Ask next time.

10. What hospital would you go to in case of an emergency?

I want my son to get the care he needs but if your local hospital is one that doesn’t take my insurance, I would like to be mentally prepared for that bill if something happens.

11. Who has access to these classrooms?

Can a janitor or a teacher’s boyfriend just walk in whenever they want? Is there a construction crew that has access during the summer for doing work on the building?

12. Do you monitor for social or physical concerns?

You’re spending the most time with my kid. Let me know if you see flags of autism, anger management issues, etc.

13. When was the last health notice you had to send out?

Do you get pink eye and other diseases come around here often? At our last daycare, there was a notice EVERY week.

14. What is the vacation policy?

Can I take him to vacation with us for a day or two without losing his spot? Do we earn vacation days? When is the preschool shut down for your vacation?

15. Do you give advance notice of changes to your policy?

If I sign to a policy, and you change it, I want the opportunity to review it before agreeing to it again. And I want notice so I can look for other places if you change something weird that I can’t get on board with.

16. Sibling discounts?

These can pay off or they can be a joke but if it saves even $10-$20 a month, why not?

Think deeply about the care of your child and don’t be hesitant to ask questions like the ones above just because they’re not common. If you care about your child, they will notice and they won’t mind you asking (unless they have something to hide).