10 Things to Consider When Touring a Preschool
By Lauriston Avery, M.S.Ed.

10 Things to Consider When Touring a Preschool


Here are 10 things to keep in mind and to look for when touring and choosing a preschool for your child.

In the early years, children need appropriate active learning experiences and caring adult support in order to optimize brain growth and development.

When it comes to selecting a preschool environment here are the qualities to look for:

  1. Children are happily engaged with materials or other children. When you visit the program you will notice the sounds of children’s voices. You will see children productively working at a variety of tasks. You will feel welcome.
  2. There are a variety of interesting things to do throughout the day. You will see a daily schedule posted showing opportunities for work, rest, active movement, snack, reading, science and math investigations, and engagement with the community.
  3. Teachers are circulating in the classroom, observing children, conversing, and working with individual children or small groups. The teachers join the children in a learning community. They wisely step into or out of the learning experiences in order to help children extend and elaborate their ideas.
  4. Children’s original work is celebrated: Children’s art adorns the walls, and their writing (invented spelling, scribbles, dictated stories) labels the environment. Art is a creative process encouraged by teachers and completed by children in their own way. All artwork is unique and is not a predesigned craft.
  5. The ABCs and the 123s are learned in a context of fascinating topics. Children decide to build a motorcycle…the girls want to ride too…they decide to build a “sidecar” onto the original construction…so they “write” labels for all the parts, instructions not to wreck it, and a story about where they went. Math is integrated through the children’s questions they pose and answer: how long is the racecourse? How many children can fit? How long did it take? Which was the fastest?

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  6. The schedule for the day allows children long periods of uninterrupted time in which to achieve the state of intellectual “flow.” You will notice some children taking their time to cut out pictures and glue them on to a chart. Each step is pondered and carefully executed. If the child needs more time, work can be returned to the next day.
  7. The outdoors is an important part of the program and is used as a large classroom to explore the neighborhood and the natural world. The outdoor spaces include gardens, water, blocks, dramatic spaces, sun, and shade. There are challenges to all the muscle groups, which develop stamina, balance, and core strength. Children can safely take risks, fall, and invent games and adventures.
  8. Books are everywhere in the classroom. Books are in a library, a writing center, and the blocks, science, and dramatic play centers. Books are near the art and the sensory tables. You will see children looking at books, being read to, and using books as a reference to discover something new.
  9. The curriculum is delivered at a variety of challenge levels to meet the needs of all the different skills and knowledge of the children in the class. Every child in the class can participate in all the experiences offered in the classroom, no matter what their developmental stage. The teacher helps children by offering support, which encourages children to try new things, making the experience more or less difficult so that the experience is neither boring nor frustrating. Mixed age groups allow children to learn from their peers who model for, support, and teach one another.
  10. Children and their families look forward to school, they all feel secure and welcome in the environment. Children run from families to peers and teachers. A wall of friendly adults surrounds children, and the children are interested and excited to be at school.

Look for an NAEYC Accredited preschool. NAEYC Accreditation is an assurance of high quality as measured against 473 criteria in 10 Standards, which include:

  • positive relationships
  • a research-based curriculum
  • teaching approaches that are culturally, individually, and developmentally sensitive
  • child assessment that informs curriculum
  • predictable routine
  • a safe and healthy environment
  • specifically and highly trained teachers
  • collaborative relationships with families
  • collaborative relationships with the community
  • strong leadership for an effective program

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