4 Questions to Ask a Potential Preschool

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{Atlanta Area Moms Blog is happy to partner with Little Sunshine’s Playhouse, where “facilities serve as a castle for a “Once Upon A Time” experience that enables each child to develop their imagination.” Learn more about Little Sunshine’s Playhouse first Georgia location here.}

Childhood experts agree: Attending a high-quality preschool program prepares children for kindergarten and beyond. Although it may seem like fun and play, preschool is actually an excellent foundation for education. But even more importantly, this is the time in which children develop social skills as they learn how to interact with each other, and improve confidence and self-esteem, making for an easier transition into kindergarten.

Children are sponges at this age and in need of high-quality personal care and learning experiences. So how do we compare options and ask the right questions?

Fuchs Family PhotoEmily Fuchs, Owner of the soon-to-open Little Sunshine’s Playhouse in Alpharetta, shared her expertise with us. She is a mom of two-year-old son Bradley, with one more on the way. She and her husband were parents at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse in St. Louis, Missouri before deciding to open the boutique-style preschool in the Atlanta market, and increase the early childhood education options in the community. She shared 4 important questions to ask when interviewing preschools.

  1. What is the basis for classroom activities each day?A quality preschool will base your child’s daily activities on an educationally engaging curriculum. The most effective programs focus on the whole child including socio-emotional development. Free play and play-based classrooms are important, but the curriculum is what separates a preschool from a daycare. It is important to have both teacher-directed and also student-directed activities, as research shows children develop confidence, and a positive attitude towards learning, through self-led and play-based activities. Teachers should be actively engaging with students throughout the day to facilitate the learning process. The school should also provide parents with a copy of the lesson plan and activities so themes and vocabulary can be continued at home.
  2. How will you assess my child? A high-quality preschool will have developmental checklists readily available for teachers to input information on a regular basis. The developmental checklists should be at families’ disposal and also discussed during bi-annual parent/teacher conferences. It is important to select a preschool that employs educators who are well-versed in child development and can identify the students’ strengths and weaknesses, in order to individually tailor the learning experience.
  3. How will I know what’s happening in my child’s classroom? Will the preschool you choose allow you to come and observe a class as you are exploring your options AND once your child has enrolled? Is there technology that allows you to check in from time-to-time to see how your child is doing? What kind of communications can you expect from your child’s teacher(s) every day? How will you be notified about updates, news, events, policy changes, etc.? It is so important that excellent communication is a part of the school’s philosophy.  Related to this, you should ask about school and classroom security. Ask how and when non-staff can enter the building and access classrooms.
  4. Are expectations clearly communicated from both sides (parents and school) during the enrollment process? Schools, where parents get involved, can extend the experiences that a child has in the classroom to real-world activities enjoyed at home. That said, some schools will want to meet you and understand your family’s goals before you apply and enroll. Others will not require this step, but I would encourage you to create an opportunity to meet administrators and understand what they feel differentiates their school.

There are many factors that go into choosing the right preschool for your family. From logistics and schedule to talking with other parents, your checklist may include a number of other criteria that will guide your decision.

LobbyIf you live or work in Alpharetta and will be investigating preschool options for your child(ren), I encourage you to learn more about Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and talk with Emily directly. Their curriculum is Reggio Emilia inspired and focuses on the whole child approach to learning. All ages (6 weeks through Pre-K) are exposed to a second language, and the core of their philosophy focuses on children’s natural curiosity which is ignited through hands-on activities and play. They are located at 12385 Morris Road Alpharetta, GA 30005.

Emily believes the most important preparation for kindergarten is building confidence so your child is excited about school and is ready to take on the world—learning as they go! She has also offered to waive the enrollment fee (a $300 value) for any family that mentions this Atlanta Moms Blog post!

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