Tender Loving Care

Finding the perfect preschool for your infant.

Finding the perfect preschool for your infant is one of the most important things any new parent needs to accomplish. Not only does the infant care have to be the best, but all aspects of the school have to make you feel comfortable. When you drop off your baby each morning, you want to leave feeling confident and relaxed that your baby will be receiving the love, nurture and care he needs.

When checking out a preschool, the following questions should help make your decision easier.

Preschool Interview Checklist

When you call for an appointment, does the director speak to you? Yes No
Does the director keep you waiting more than a few minutes when you arrive? Yes No
Does the director give you all the time you need to talk about the program, and answer all your questions? Yes No
Does she show you the school’s Mission Statement? Yes No
Does she give you a booklet containing information about the school? Yes No
Will she supply you with references? Yes No
At first glance, does the preschool look clean? Yes No
Does it smell clean? Yes No
Is the preschool licensed by the state? Yes No
Is the license posted? If no, why not? Yes No
Can anyone walk into the school anytime? Yes No
Does the school do a background check before hiring a teacher? Yes No
Do the teachers have extensive experience? Yes No

The Infant Room

Is the infant room clean? Yes No
Are the electric outlets covered? Yes No
Do the cabinets have childproof locks on them? Yes No
Do you see any cleaning spray bottles sitting on the counters? Yes No
Do you see anything that would be dangerous lying around in baby’s reach? Yes No
Are the counters clean and uncluttered? Yes No
Are the diaper changing tables clean? Yes No
Are there gloves available for diaper changing? Yes No
Is there a crib for each baby? Yes No
Are the cribs in good condition? (Test to see that they are not wobbly or have any loose screws). Yes No
Are there enough high chairs or a feeding table for mealtimes? Yes No
Are there enough swings, exersaucers, bouncy seats, teething toys, strollers, etc. available for the babies? Yes No
Is the above equipment in good condition? Yes No
Are the toys and equipment age-appropriate? Yes No
Are the toys and equipment cleaned with bleach water each day? Yes No
Is there a bin to put dirty toys that are used during the day? (For dropped toys or toys that other babies chew on). Yes No
Is there happy music playing or lullabies if it is naptime? Yes No
Is there a fire exit door with a sign posted above it? Yes No
Does the room look like a place that your baby could have fun, explore and blossom? Yes No
Do you have an overall good feeling about the room? Yes No

Staff

Is there one childcare provider for every four babies ? Yes No
Do the same caregivers take care of the babies each day? Yes No
Do different teachers come in for the late shift (3-6pm)? Yes No
Do they have CPR and first aid certification? Yes No
Are the caregivers friendly and eager to tell you about themselves and the program? Yes No
Do the caregivers act in a professional manner? Yes No
Do the caregivers look clean and neat, and are they dressed appropriately? Yes No
Are the caregivers warm and responsive to your baby when you visit? Yes No
Do they know what to do if a baby is choking? Yes No
Do they tell you about the daily activities? Yes No
Do they take the babies outside, play music, do tummy time, etc.? Yes No
Do they have specialists that come in for music, movement and other activities? Yes No
Do they send home daily reports? Yes No
Do they want to know your baby’s schedule at home? Yes No
Do they want to know how you soothe your baby when he is irritable or crying? Yes No
Is there an illness policy? Yes No
Are there conferences or just daily check-ins? Yes No

Some other questions to consider:

  • Are you allowed to talk directly with the teacher by phone or just the director if you need to call?
  • What are their rules for visiting your baby at school?
  • What is the policy for drop-off and pick-up?
  • If someone else needs to pick up your baby, do they need a special card, password, driver’s license, etc.?
  • Do they use the same substitutes all the time (so they know the babies and their schedules)?

If you think you like the preschool, drop in unannounced. Call with any questions before you make a decision. If you get the cold shoulder or you feel like they are too busy and you are unimportant, find another preschool. Once your child is enrolled, if you are told you can’t visit anytime, find another preschool. If the facility looks, smells or feels dirty, find another preschool. If the caregivers are dressed inappropriately, find another preschool. If the staff seems unhappy and not having fun, find another preschool.

If you feel great about the preschool, then sign the papers. But if something feels amiss, even if you can’t figure out what it is, go with your gut feeling as it is usually right! Above all, you want to be able to enjoy watching your baby blossom in her new environment and feel good that you made the right decision.