Checklist to Choosing a Preschool

Check list to Choosing a Preschool for Your Child

Choosing a preschool for your little one can be overwhelming and there is no “one size fits all.”   When it comes to comparing and making decisions, there’s a lot to factor in. What are the preschools near me?  What is the preschool age?  What kids of preschool activities are there? Should I consider a Montessori preschool? What is the preschool curriculum like? 

Below is a guide to help you navigate choosing the best option for your child and family!  And if you are looking for options in the South Bay, check out our List of Local Preschools here. 


  • Montessori
    The Montessori Method of Education, developed by Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children. Montessori’s method has been used for over 100 years in many parts of the world.
  • Developmental
    However, the majority of the time, a developmental preschool (or a special education preschool) is a preschool especially designed for children with special needs, whether it is a disability or a developmental delay, usually after a child has “aged out” of an early intervention (EI) program.
  • Play-based
    In a play-based program, children choose activities based on their current interests. The term “play-based” is often interchanged with “child-centered,” which could be used to describe the majority of available preschool programs. Teachers encourage the kids to play, facilitating social skills along the way.
  • Faith centered
    Faith-based programs are those which integrate the tenets of their faith into the curriculum of the program. Faith-based programs may be housed in a variety of locations such as churches, synagogues, or other religious settings, private centers, or family child care homes. 
  • Academic or skills-based
    Academic or skills-based programs are teacher directed and managed. This means that children have limited choice in the learning that takes place and how that learning happens.
  • Childled learning
    Child-led learning is a term used to describe education programmes in which children are responsible for deciding what to learn.. There are also situations in which giving a child a greater role in deciding how much and what to learn is more appropriate, such as sessions for kids who struggle with learning difficulties.

Preschool Teachers

  • What certifications do the have? 
  • What are the classroom ratios of teachers to students. 
  • Staff changes – how often, how are they announced.

Preschool Grounds/Facilities

  • Holidays – how celebrated and communicated?
  • Food – do you bring your own or they provide?
  • Restrictions- example is it a nut-free campus?
  • Do they have a refrigerator for what you bring?

Preschool Safety

  • How can access the school?
  • What is the emergency plan? 
  • How does drop off/pick up work? 
  • Day to day safety – helmets on bikes etc

Where do most preschool graduates go next?  

  • Feeds into public/private etc.  
  • What is it preparing you for?

Preschool School Hours

  • Full Time vs Part Time?
  • How many days is a week is class? 
  • Extended hours available – what happens in the extended care session? Who runs that? How many of their kids stay for extended care?

Preschool Fees 

  • Tuition
  • Extended Care 
  • Additional Fees (Potty Training, food, etc) 
  • Break down per hour of instruction & per hour of extended care, extra fees, fundraising obligations etc.

Additional questions to ask:

  • What happens during extended care hours?  Who runs them? How many kids stay?
  • Where do most kids go for elementary from here?
  • Parent involvement?
  • Clothes – shoes required?  Uniform? Other clothing requirements?
  • What does a typical day look like– have circle time?  Songs? Activities? What type?
  • Calendar – year round?  What holidays? How many?  How long? What do most families do during these times?
  • Are parents involved – do they know each other?

Do your research: 

  • Go to area private high schools – where do most of their kids come from?
  • Ratings on Yelp, Great Schools and any other source?
  • Find a local group on Facebook or NextDoor and ask other moms for recommendations

Anything we missed?  Please let us know in the comments. 

Need a list of recommended preschools in the South Bay, click here!

Check list to Choosing a Preschool for Your Child

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