Tip Tuesday — Preschool Mania

Is your infant enrolled in preschool for the 2009-2010 school year?  Slacker!  Has she taken the Pre-MCATs yet?  The horror!

Ever since reading Jenny’s post about preschool registration, I have become completely obsessed with the process and it’s bringin’ me down, man.  It’s gettin’ me low.

In my area the cost for preschool ranges from $85 per month to $600 per month with the average price being around $200.  I am currently looking into programs held at churches (some who classify Mormons as evil pagans and some who don’t), public high schools, people’s basements, farms, dedicated educational facilities and retail space in a local strip mall.

The “best” ones have no openings for 4-year-olds because all of the 3-year-olds move up.  Registration doesn’t even start for a week or two but several are saying it’s all but futile to get on a waiting list.

For the last 2 years we’ve done a co-op preschool with a few other moms all taking turns teaching.  It’s been perfect.  I’m a little nervous however to move her straight from a class of 4 with Isabellov’s rockin’ mom as the teacher to a class of 25, where the teacher can barely remember her real name, let alone her internet alias.

I really feel that for Laylee, a more traditional preschool with a few more kids and a tighter schedule would be just the thing to prepare her for the mass chaos that is kindergarten.  (Check back in a year.  I may decide to keep her home for life, teaching her through experience with a loose curriculum based on the migratory patterns of birds and insects from the species lessticus disgusticus, writing the alphabet on our bodies with henna and planting an organical herb garden full of mini fairy castles and rosemary.)

I have several schools to visit in the next week or so.  Some want to evaluate Laylee to see if she’d be suitable.  Others think our visit is futile since the have no room at the inn and others are happy to have us come check them out.

What I’d like to know is what questions would you ask the teachers when you do your visits?  Here are a few I have so far:

-What is the child to adult ratio?
-Will a child ever be alone with an adult unsupervised?  What circumstances would call for this and would you let me know?
-Are the instructors current in their first aid and CPR certification?
-What are their teaching credentials?
-If you suspect that one of your students is being abused at home, what procedure would you follow for dealing with that? (this question comes from the book Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker.  He has a great list that I’d love to include here but I lent the book to someone.  If it’s you, please bring it back.)
-How rigorous is the program academically?  Will she need to complete her SATs and MCATs before enrolling?
-Do they get outdoors time?
-What is your teaching philosophy?
-How broad of an age range do you allow in a given class?
-Is daycare also provided at this location?  Is it simultaneous with “school”?
-What is your mother’s maiden name? 
-How often do you send home progress reports?
-Do you do regular parent-teacher conferences?
-What are your emergency or disaster plans?
-How do you handle snow days?
What else should I ask or am I too annoying already?

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