Before you embark on a preschool visit, whether at Hogarth or elsewhere, you need to do your homework. Spend some time on-line looking through a prospective school’s website and Facebook page. Since parents don’t attend preschool with their children, these on-line tools are ways that preschools keep parents informed. When you’re reading through the sites, keep these questions in mind. How often are the pages updated? What kinds of information does the school share publicly? Does the school offer secure, private pages for sharing pictures and day-to-day details about the children’s lives at school? Does the school rely solely on a Facebook page to pass along information? Not everybody wants to sign up for Facebook.
We would love for you to schedule a visit to Hogarth. Please bring your child, and plan to spend at least 45 minutes (but no longer than 1 hour) in the classroom. Keep in mind that Andrea, who will be conducting your visit, is a teaching director. During school hours, her primary focus is on the students in her classroom. Andrea is always happy to chat with prospective parents outside of school hours, as well.
The following are specifics to watch for during your school visits.
- Does the school feel nurturing and warm? Your little one is still a very young child and needs to be in a safe, loving environment.
- How does the teacher handle conflict? No one, least of all a young child, needs to be shouted at, threatened, blamed or shamed.
- Is the day structured or unstructured? Neither style is inherently right or wrong, but you should be thinking about which environment would be more appropriate for your individual child’s needs.
- Are there plenty of interesting, age-appropriate and worthwhile materials for your child to explore on a daily basis? An understocked classroom is a potential battlefield with many children vying for limited supplies.
- How long have a school’s teachers worked in their classrooms? Ask about staff turnover. How many teachers did the school lose within the last few years? For many reasons, childcare centers often have staff coming and going at alarming rates. At Hogarth, we have had exactly 2 lead teachers and 7 assistant teachers in our 36-year history.
- Do the children seem happy? This is the most important thing to look for. You should see children who are smiling and laughing. Children who are comfortable and at ease. Children who interact freely with each other and approach the teacher often and easily. It is not difficult for schools to set up a lovely show for visiting prospective parents, but it is impossible to simulate happy children. Trust your instincts. If it “feels” good, it probably is.