13 Questions to ask pre-schools before signing up

You have a list of preferred preschools, daycare centres or childcare options for your little one, but how do you choose and how do you know if it’s going to be right for your child? Here are some questions you can ask the preschool to help alleviate any fears and help you to make the right choice.
Looking for childcare? Here are 13 questions to ask pre-schools and daycare centres before signing up, to help alleviate any fears and to help you make the right choice for your little one.

You have a list of preferred preschools, daycare centres or childcare options for your little one, but how do you choose and how do you know if it’s going to be right for your child?
Choosing the best fit for your child’s early education, development, well-being and early formative experiences is not easy.

However you are your child’s best advocate and will know what type of environment will suit them most in terms of how social they are, whether they need a lot of structure in their lives, whether they thrive in a creative environment etc.

It's also worth asking other parents about their experiences in choosing a preschool too, good and bad.

13 Questions to ask pre-schools before signing up


1. About the preschool

  • How is the centre operated? Is it privately owned or part of a larger franchise?
  • Are parents included in the governance of the preschool?
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • What is the current availability? Is there a waitlist in place?

2. Numbers

  • How many children are enrolled at the school?
  • What is the child:teacher ratio?
  • How many children can be easily accommodated in both the indoor and outdoor space?

3. Staff

  • Will any staff member have primary responsibility for my child?
  • What are the qualifications and experience of the staff? Do the staff hold the Diploma of Teaching or a higher qualification?
  • Are all staff, including support staff, catering and cleaning staff, police-checked?

4. Induction

  • Is there an induction process in place when my child starts?
  • Are parents encouraged to stay with their child when they first start?
  • Can my child come along for a few hours to get used to the preschool before starting their set hours?

5. Fees

  • What fee structure is in place?
  • Do we qualify for a childcare subsidy?
  • Is there a fee if my child is absent due to illness or on holiday?

6. Food & drink

  • What meals and snacks do you provide for the children?
  • Am I expected to bring in any food for my little one?
  • Do you have a copy of the weekly/monthly meal plans that I can have a look at?
  • Are there systems in place to protect children with food allergies?
  • Can we bring in our own formula or expressed breast milk?
  • Do we need to bring in our own bottles and sterilising equipment?
  • Do you chart how much milk my child has drunk or food they have eaten during the day?

7. Nappies

  • Do you provide nappies for my child or are we expected to bring in our own?
  • What type of nappies do you provide for the children?

8. Sleeping

  • What sleep and rest provisions are in place?
  • Does each child have their own bed and bedding?
  • What are the arrangements for children who wake early or do not need a sleep?
  • Do you chart each child’s sleep times during the day?

9. Medication

  • What process is in place if my child needs to take medication during the day?
  • Do you keep a record of the medication my child has taken during the day?
  • What are the arrangements in case of an accident or medical emergency?
  • What medical or first aid training do the staff have and are their first aid certificates current?
  • What happens if a child becomes sick during the day?
  • Is there a sick room or facilities for isolating sick children?

10. Day to day

  • What is the daily schedule?
  • Are all the children in one class or are there several classes split by age group?
  • Is there a balance between indoor and outdoor play?
  • Are there organised day trips in addition to day to day activities?
  • Do children need to start and finish by a certain time or is there some flexibility?
  • Do children need to attend all week for all sessions or can their attendance be arranged to suit our requirements?
  • How do you feel about parents visiting or volunteering during the day?
  • What methods do you use to communicate with parents?
  • How do you assess each child’s progress?
  • Do you keep a portfolio for each child?
  • What ways do you feel children learn best?
  • What is the balance between play, planned learning, socialisation and care throughout each day?

11. Behaviour

  • How do teachers manage conflict between children?
  • How do you guide the children’s behaviour?

12. Additional information

  • What other information can you provide to help with my enrolment decision?

13. Trust your instinct

  • After your visit, trust your instincts and ask yourself whether the preschool felt ‘right’ for your child.
  • Were you and your child made to feel welcome and accepted?
  • Did they answer all your questions thoroughly?
  • Did the teachers take time to interact with you and your child whilst you were there?
  • Did the teachers treat the other children with kindness, respect and care?
  • Were the facilities stimulating and inviting?
  • Was there a genuine air of care for children or did it feel superficial?
  • Did the other children seem happy there?
  • Would you feel comfortable leaving your child in their care?

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