Again, welcome to the series: Choosing a Preschool, Nut Allergy in Tow.
Once you've determined which preschool philosophy you would like your child's preschool to have, it's time to pick a preschool.
I would suggest visiting a local preschool fair, if your town offers one. It's a great chance to see many, or all, of the local preschools and get your basic questions out of the way...location, cost, age, potty training, parental involvement, hours of operatino, location, etc.
However, once you've narrowed it down to a select few I would encourage you to actually go visit them (see if you can bring your preschooler!) and get a hands-on idea of what the preschool is like. At that time I would suggest you determine which of the following questions are important to you and ask a handful (if not all) of the following:
1. During your tour ask to see the curriculum.
-What are the children in each age group working on?
-Will they get a chance to create artwork?
-Will the children be working on any reading, writing, etc.?
-Will the children be experimenting with any music?
-What is the structure (if any) to the day?
-What is the student/teacher ratio?
-How much tv do the children watch? (For us, I didn't want any since I could do that myself)
-What type of experience/education does each teacher have?
2. During the tour make a mental note of:
-How many classes there are.
-Do all the teachers appear friendly?
-Is there any outside play area? If so, how is it supervised and is it enclosed?
-Are the room(s) safe and easily accessible by the children?
-How do they keep kids safe inside and strangers outside?
3. Other things to consider:
-How are the children disciplined?
-How often are the facilities/toys cleaned?
-Do YOU feel comfortable there? Ask your child too! If you don't, trust your gut.
-How do they handle bathroom breaks for themselves and the children?
-What type of parent involvement do they require?
4. And great questions to ask if you have a child with a life-threatening food allergy:
-Are you familiar, and have you had direct experience with, children with life-threatening food allergies? Has anyone had a reaction here? If yes, how was it handled?
-Do you provide meals? If so, how many, and how do you take precautions for those with allergies?
-What type of training or experience have you (and all staff) had related to how to handle a food allergy crisis?
-Do you (and all staff) know how to use an Epi Pen?
-Could I (the parent) bring in the Red Cross for a training for the staff on how to handle a situation involving a life-threatening food allergy?
-How do you handle celebrations? E.g. birthdays, holidays, etc. regarding treats?
-What is your medical emergency routine/policy?
Always feel comfortable asking for references! After all, you would do if it you were a business owner hiring them to work for you. In fact, they ARE working for you! They are helping raise and educate your CHILD.
Of course there are probably 100s more questions you could ask. Before you go, make sure to think of everything that's important to you and write them down! You'll be shocked at how easily you forget once you're there. And never feel bad for asking questions; remember, this is YOUR CHILD we're talking about.
Anyone have any good questions to add to the list?
Tomorrow: So now you've made your choice. What do you send your allergic child to preschool with?