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29 Questions to Ask Preschools

Here is a complete list of questions you can ask day care providers or preschools in Rockland County. Getting answers to these questions can give you more confidence, knowing that you’re making the right choice for you and your child.

Is the center licensed?

This is something you need to ask, especially if you haven’t seen it posted on the wall. And even if you have, it never hurts to ask just one more time. It is very important!

What is the staff to child ratio?

Different states will have different requirements for this. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the ratio be one staff member for every 3 to 5 younger children, and one staff member for every 7 to 10 older children.

What is the preschool’s discipline policy?

Corporal punishment of any kind has pretty much been banished from any type of child care environment and you definitely want to make sure that you don’t send your child to any center that institutes these policies. However, they do need to deal with children that are misbehaving, and you need to know how they do that. Make sure they are able to tell you what those policies are and how discipline is carried out. If there is something such as a timeout mat, make sure you can see where that mat is. Also make sure that there is a written discipline policy, and that you can receive a copy of it.

What are the ages of the children that attend the center?

Of course, you’ll need to know this in order to know whether your child is eligible to attend that day care center. However, you’ll also want to know what age group of children your child will be playing with. If it’s a mix of older and younger children, make sure that there is a separate area for each, so that older kids can play a bit rougher when they want to, and so that younger children can take naps without being disturbed.

What is the pickup policy?

This one is very important! Your day care needs to know who will be picking your child up on a daily basis and should release your child to anybody but that person (or people). Make sure that if someone else will be picking up your child, the center needs the change of pickup in writing and that it needs to be authorized by you.

Is the staff fully trained in emergency first aid and CPR?

This is another must! Even though there are different requirements for licensing and ratios, it is an absolute must that anyone who will be looking after your child can help them in case of emergency. It’s something that no one wants to think about, but that everyone has to.

What are the educational requirements of the staff?

This one’s not actually a deal-breaker and if someone is fully qualified in all other areas, they don’t need to hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. But if you do want to know how educated the staff is, it’s understandable if you ask. You should also ask if the staff is trained in child development, safety, prevention of injuries, and that they know how to handle (or avoid) the spread of child illnesses,.

Does the staff receive any additional training?

Again, this one’s not a must. But it is nice to know that the people looking after your child are interested in keeping their skills and knowledge up to date.

How long has the staff worked here?

You need to be able to get a sense that your child will be able to make real relationships with their caregivers at the preschools of your choice, and that they’re not going to be leaving as soon as your child forms a bond with them.

What hygienic requirements does the staff have?

Make sure that the staff washes their hands before and after diaper changes and before and after handling your child’s food.

Do children have to wash their hands after potty time, and before eating?

Asking about this is just common sense, and hopefully, a common practice for preschools in Rockland County. Not only does this keep the children free from germs, but it also teaches them good hygiene practices.

How is food prepared, stored, and served?

Of course, just look for common sense answers here. Make sure that food is not left where it could spoil, that children are seated in an orderly manner while they eat, and that food is prepared in a clean environment where no cross contamination of food is possible.

How are food allergies handled?

Food allergies are extremely important, and they can also be fatal if a child eats the wrong food. Make sure that any food allergy is clearly displayed in the food preparation area, along with the child’s full name and what measures are to be taken in case of an allergic reaction.

How, and how often, are the toys cleaned?

With all the hands that are all over them, and with all the mouths they go in, it’s essential that the preschool’s toys are washed on a regular basis with a disinfectant that can thoroughly get rid of any germs that are on the children without harming them.

What if my child needs to take medication? How is that handled?

If your child needs to take medication regularly, you’ll definitely need to set up a system with the day care for administering it. But you should also have something on hand in case your child only needs medication occasionally, or if they only need it in emergencies, such as with an Epi-Pen. Ask whether it’s the teachers that administer the medication or whether there’s a nurse on-hand that does it. Also ask if you’ll get a report that medication was administered, especially if it’s not something the child needs all the time.

Where are medications stored?

Make sure that this is a place that no child can get to, but that every staff member can.

What is the preschool’s sick child policy?

It is an inconvenience to have to plan a day home from work when your child falls ill, and no one wants their child to become sick. But it’s important to know that the center does not allow sick children to attend school for the day because you want to prevent your own child from becoming sick. Usually, allowing sniffles and a little cough is okay; allowing a fever or anything more serious is not.

What happens if the child becomes sick after you’ve left?

Sometimes, it does happen. Your child seems perfectly fine when you drop them off in the morning and an hour later, they’re too sick to be at school. Ask the center if they are sent home, if they have a quiet area to lie down until someone can come get them, and what happens in case it is an emergency.

Are all children who attend the center required to have all of their vaccinations up to date?

This is another must! More and more parents today are turning away from vaccinating their children but this is a fairly dangerous practice as it leaves other children at risk for infection. Most day care centers or preschools in Rockland County require that all children are vaccinated.

Is the playground enclosed?

This is extremely important! Not only do you want to make sure that no one can come in, but you also want to make sure that children can’t wander away from the designated areas.

What material is placed under slides, swings, and other playground equipment?

Children fall on playgrounds every day, and it’s not usually a very big deal – because the proper equipment is installed. Ask this question, and it speaks volumes as to how safe your child will be on the preschool’s playground.

Do you practice fire drills? How often?

This should be yes, and it should be every two months.

What are your hours of operation?

You may have already found this out during your own research, but again, make sure that they’ll be able to watch your child during the times and days that you need them to.

How much are the monthly fees?

This of course is important too, although it should never be a deciding factor.

Are there any other fees?

Some preschools have mandatory fundraisers while others will charge specific fees if you are late picking your child up at the end of the day. Make sure that the center is very upfront with you about any additional fees that you’ll have to pay.

When are fees due?

This is not a deal-breaker either, but it is certainly nice to know.

Are payment arrangements an option?

Day care services can be very expensive, and not everyone can pay the whole month’s fees in one lump sum. If you think this is a situation that you will fall into, ask if it’s possible to divide your fees up throughout the month, or if you could discuss another payment plan.

Is there a payment policy for days that my child is sick or absent?

Some preschools will compensate you for days that your child is not there while others will not. Make sure you know so that you won’t be surprised that you were still charged for day care when your family went on holidays.

How much notice do I need to give if I need to withdraw my child from the program?

Maybe you’re moving or maybe your childcare arrangements change. Whatever happens, sometimes you need to take your child out of day care. This is never a problem, but you may have to still pay the fees for the rest of the year, or for a certain period of time afterwards. Make sure you know the center’s policies on this so that again, you don’t get stuck with extra fees.

Do you have references you could provide me?

Any day care center or preschool worth its salt, no matter what kind of child care center it is, will be able to provide you with a list of names of past parents you can call. Make sure that any of your prospective preschools in Rockland County gives you at least three, and that you call at least three. When you call the references, ask them what they liked and disliked about it, and if their child was happy there.

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