- Is the preschool clean, well-organised, safe, and well-maintained? What condition are the toys in? Realistically is the setting conveniently sited for your journey to and from work? Is it part of a group, or is it independent? How big is the outside play space and is it accessible to the children all day?
- Do the children seem relaxed and happy? Are the Staff responsive and caring? Try to talk to other parents if you can. Are the children active and busy or rigidly controlled and directed? There should be a happy burble of continuous noise.
- What will your child do on a typical day? Is there a good mix of creative play, free play, and sitting-down activities? When and where do naps or quiet times happen? Are the children able to access the outdoors, how often do they go outside?
- How is good behaviour encouraged and rewarded? How is challenging behaviour handled? What is the policy on discipline?
- What are the credentials of the Preschool Team? How many fully qualified staff are there? How many level 3 and above staff do they have? What is staff turnover like?
Staff to Child Ratio
- Over 2’s 1:4, Over 3’s 1:8. Is the Preschool relying on students and untrained staff to meet the required ratio? Remember, Preschool-aged children are very sensitive to contact changes.
- Is there a recent Ofsted report? If so, you may wish to discuss it with the Manager as reports may not tell the whole story.
Food, Medicine and Care Policies
- What are the children given to eat and at what times? Are dietary needs catered for? Does the Preschool have a medicine policy? (A setting can administer prescribed medicine- if they have a robust procedure.)
- Is the setting run by an absentee owner and if so, who decides Preschool policy? How does the setting keep parents informed of their child’s progress? Is the Manager available to talk to parents at the beginning or end of each day? (This can make a real difference.) Does the Manager/Key Person follow the child’s overall development and encourage the parents to advise of any change in home circumstances that may affect their child’s behaviour?
- Ask for the policy on late collections. Will there be a charge? Check whether nappies, meals, uniforms, or anything else be charged extra. Is there a charge in closure periods or bank holidays? Is there a deposit or registration fee? How far in advance are fees due? Understand the Terms and Conditions.
Finally, trust your own instinct. Only you will be able to tell if your child will be happy here …