At Western Pennsylvania Montessori School, we take pride in building young students into life-long learners. Our school welcomes children from 20 months old through kindergarten. This is such an exciting time in your child’s life as they are growing and learning something new each day.
Selecting just the right school for your child may seem a daunting task at first. You want to be sure that you select the very best program to fit their personality and learning needs, but how do you do that? There will be a few practical questions that will most likely be answered on a school’s website. These might include things like class hours, transportation, tuition costs, additional fees, average class room size, summer programs, application deadlines, and staff-to-student ratio.
We’ve put together a few additional questions to ask as you are touring preschools for your budding learner.
What is your school’s educational philosophy?
At WPMS, we are dedicated to the educational philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori. Overall, this means we put an emphasis on the development of the entire child – social, intellectual, moral, and physical. You can learn more about the Montessori Method here. When touring the staff member should be able to adequately explain the educational philosophy in detail. This is a good time to ask about how parents can communicate and give feedback about their child’s progress and development.
What is the educational background and experience of the teaching staff?
Ask about education, ongoing training, and overall experience. Did they attend college? Did they study early childhood development? At the very least, the head teacher should be certified in early childhood education and have a B.A. or M.A. Not all staff, like teachers assistants, need to have these formal credentials. A good preschool teacher understands how children grow and develop, and participates on continuing education opportunities throughout the year. The classroom teacher and staff should also be certified in CPR and first aid.
How much involvement from parents do you expect, or want?
Many preschools are privately funded and ask that contribute in fundraising activities. Find out exactly what will be asked of you in terms of financial support or donations. Beyond financial support, there be opportunities to volunteer in the classroom or on field trips.
How does your school handle potty training and separation anxiety?
Children entering preschool may vary widely in terms of maturity. Some are potty-trained, others might not be. Some have trouble separating from their parents, while others are independent. Maybe they still take daily naps or maybe they don’t need one. Find out how the school staff deals with all of these basic needs and then decide if the policies will work for your child.
How is free play, playtime handled at your school?
Some preschools focus more on academics or have a very structured environment with limited play time. Other schools are more play-based and allow children to be more self-directed by being able to choose activities on their own. Weigh the answer to this question against the type of environment you feel would best suit your child.
Those are just five questions to get you started thinking about before you tour. We’d love to hear from you though. If you have additional questions feel free to reach out by phone, email, or visit us on Facebook to ask a question.
During the month of January, we are conducting drop-in Open Houses each Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit us and come armed with great questions!