What to Look For in a Preschool or Childcare Program

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends that parents seek out:

• Well-trained staff – The professional qualifications and training of teachers and staff are crucial to a quality program. Ask about the degrees and certificates held by the director and teachers, and find out what steps they take to provide staff with ongoing training.

• Low child-to-teacher ratio – The number of adults and children is important because it helps determine how much individual attention your child will get. There should be at least preschoolerone adult for every:

– four infants

– five younger toddlers (12 to 24 months)

– six older toddlers (2 to 3 years)

- ten 3- or 4-year-olds

• Small group size – In addition to low teacher-to-child ratios, the overall size of the program is important. Look for a program with fewer than six to eight infants in a group, 10 to 12 toddlers, and no more than 20 preschoolers.

• Low staff turnover – Teachers who have been in a program longer establish bonds with the children, and those relationships help children grow and learn. Low turnover is also usually a sign that the program values good staff and works to keep them.

• A safe and healthy environment – Check that the program is licensed by the state. Optimally it will have NAEYC accreditation, which demonstrates that the program has undergone a rigorous evaluation. Make sure that the facility looks clean, and that all children are under adult supervision at all times. Staff should be able to describe clear health and safety procedures, as well as policies for handling emergencies.

Take the time to choose carefully. Choosing a preschool means building a relationship with people who will give your child a great start on learning.

Adapted from the NAEYC brochure “Early Years Are Learning Years.”

More resources about preschool and early education.