Environment

  • Can children see themselves in the environment, ie. children’s artwork displayed, images of children on the walls?
  • Is the environment neat and tidy?
  • Are art materials and toys kept where children can access them without adult assistance?
  • Is there natural light in the classroom?
  • Do the toys and materials appear to have open-ended uses?
  • Are snacks and meals something you’d feed your child at home?
  • What would the environment look like through my child’s eyes? (Don’t be afraid to sit on the floor to get the full perspective!)
  • How often is the bathroom cleaned?
  • How often are the rugs vacuumed?
  • Do you notice any prevailing smells, pleasant or otherwise?
  • Are there signs telling staff what they may and may not do, signaling distrust?

Teachers and Children

  • Are teachers attentive to the children?
  • Do children/staff appear joyful?
  • What is the school/center’s professional development budget?
  • How are teachers expected to gain new skills and hone their craft?
  • Do teachers use a respectful, loving tone when speaking with children?
  • Do teachers receive paid sick leave? (Facilities that don’t provide sick leave have a have a greater risk of ill teachers working with children.)
  • Ask about the staff retention rate. Is it within your expectations?
  • Are children playing by themselves or in groups?
  • Are academics handled in a developmentally appropriate way?

Other Questions

  • Does the school have a guiding philosophy?
  • What is the policy if your child is ill?
  • What accommodations are made for children with special needs/learning differences?
  • Ask about discipline policies. Do they mesh with your parenting style?
  • Are children in all stages of toilet changing welcome?
  • What is my role as a parent?
  • How is parent/teacher communication handled?
  • What should I be packing for my child each day?

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