How to Find the Right Preschool

school 1964

Choosing the right preschool is an important decision for parents. For some, it will be the first time a stranger will watch and care for their child. Here are tips to help make the right decision.

Check the License
Do your own background check. In California, preschools and day cares must be licensed through the state’s Department of Social Services (exceptions follow). Look up licenses through the Department’s website which contains five year’s worth of data on facilities. Call your regional office if you’re looking for information beyond what is listed.

While the standard day care or preschool requires a state license, there are some exceptions:

  • Children taken care of by a relative
  • Recreational programs and organized camps that are licensed through the Department of Public Health.
  • Businesses that offer limited child care to customers required to remain on the premises (e.g. fitness centers)
  • Programs overseen by other state agencies


Visit the Preschool and Ask Questions
Prepare a list of questions before making an appointment to visit the preschool. Child Care Aware recommends asking about:

  • Staff-to-child ratios
  • Background checks, credentials and medical training of care providers
  • Curriculum
  • Discipline policy
  • Reporting injuries
  • Process for cleaning and sanitizing the facility
  • Potty training and diaper changing
  • Nap and sleeping arrangements
  • Supervision on playgrounds


Eight percent of preschool violations involve lack of supervision, according to the Department of Social Services. Seven percent of violations involve cleanliness and safety of the premises. A visit will provide the opportunity to see if the center’s cleanliness is in line with your standards. It also allows you to watch the interaction between teachers and students and communicate directly with staff.

Tuition
Undoubtedly, cost will play a role in which preschool you choose. Ask about registration fees, payment policy on missed days and penalties for picking up children late. If you’re a military family, ask if the school offers military discounts.

Start Early
Don’t leave your preschool search to the last minute. Many facilities have waiting lists. Talk to other parents in the community to get preschool recommendations and check San Diego Family Magazine’s Education Directory. When it’s time to make a final decision, follow your intuition and go with the best fit for your family and little one.  


 


Melissa Mecija is a freelance writer and mother of two. She is also a reporter/anchor for 10News, the ABC affiliate in San Diego.

 

Published August 2017

 

 

 

 

Free Printable Back to School Sign

Free Printable Back to School Sign

The first day of school is an important milestone to celebrate. Keep your family's back-to-school tradition alive with a first-day photoshoot! Choose which free, printable sign is appropriate for yo . . .

Read more

Learning Pods 101: Tutor-led, teacher-led or parent-led?

Learning Pods 101: Tutor-led, teacher-led or parent-led?

The term “learning pod” (aka pandemic pod) has become a common household phrase in a matter of weeks. For every parent who is anxiously trying to figure out how to return to work while safely ed . . .

Read more

Tips to Keep Kids Engaged in Learning at Home, Part 1 of 2

Tips to Keep Kids Engaged in Learning at Home, Part 1 of 2

With a number of possible educational scenarios this fall, the new school year will look different for everyone depending on school district, family decisions, parent availability and more. But one . . .

Read more

Encouragement from a Reluctant Homeschool Mom

Encouragement from a Reluctant Homeschool Mom

The day my son’s sixth grade teachers asked why I’d chosen to homeschool him through elementary school, all my fears about homeschooling came rushing back. Were there giant gaps in his education . . .

Read more

Education Directory - Fall 2020

Education Directory - Fall 2020

Where (or if) to send kids to school is a big decision on every parent's mind right now. Our education directory features educational options in San Diego County with a variety of learning environme . . .

Read more

What’s Your Child’s Learning Style?

What’s Your Child’s Learning Style?

Most of us know that people learn in a variety of ways — perhaps you’ve noticed kids who count on their fingers, prefer to read aloud or always write things down. But did you know that there are . . .

Read more

Your Child's Education: You Have Options

Your Child's Education: You Have Options

When it comes to being a parent, perhaps one of the most important responsibilities you have is to provide your child with a quality education. The good news is, parents have numerous educational op . . .

Read more

25 Activities that Support Your Child in Math

25 Activities that Support Your Child in Math

Is math homework giving you a headache? Do you dread hearing the words, “I hate math!” While math may not appeal to some children, it is helpful to everyday living, and strong math skills can op . . .

Read more

Homeschooling Basics

Homeschooling Basics

You’ve decided to homeschool (or maybe have no choice)! As you prepare for your educational journey, keep in mind that there is no perfect way to homeschool. Every family has to do what’s right . . .

Read more

10 Tips for Choosing a Kindergarten Program

10 Tips for Choosing a Kindergarten Program

Choosing a kindergarten program can feel like a daunting task. In an effort to place your child in the “right” school, there are many things to consider. Think about your own philosophy of educ . . .

Read more

How to Find the Right Preschool

How to Find the Right Preschool

Choosing the right preschool is an important decision for parents. For some, it will be the first time a stranger will watch and care for their child. Here are tips to help make the right decision.C . . .

Read more

4 Tips to Plan a Successful High School Year

4 Tips to Plan a Successful High School Year

Spring is the time to start planning ahead for a successful school year. Check out these tips for high school students – what they can do in the spring semester to prepare for fall. Choose chal . . .

Read more

Beyond Books: 20 Reasons to Love the Library

Beyond Books: 20 Reasons to Love the Library

If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the library, perhaps you only associate it with hardcover and paperback books. The library has so much more to offer than awesome books! Stop in your loc . . .

Read more

Farmers Markets Offer a Bounty of Learning Opportunities

Farmers Markets Offer a Bounty of Learning Opportunities

Going to farmers markets on a regular basis puts fresh, seasonal produce at kids’ eye level. They start to notice that foods vary week by week and learn what’s in season. This offers an opportunit . . .

Read more

5 Things Parents Can Do Now to Prepare Children for Kindergarten

5 Things Parents Can Do Now to Prepare Children for Kindergarten

It’s not uncommon for parents to wonder if children are learning and developing at the same pace as their peers. Many first-time parents have little understanding of what today’s kindergarteners . . .

Read more

5 Tips for SAT Success

5 Tips for SAT Success

Mastering the SAT can have tremendous impact on a student’s life, but it comes at a cost. Preparing for the SAT can be a stressful process for teens (because the stakes are high) and for parents ( . . .

Read more

5 Back-to-School Tips for Divorced Parents

5 Back-to-School Tips for Divorced Parents

Transitions from grade to grade can be challenging. Adding the stress of divorce—especially for newly divorced parents—can make a new school year even more nerve-racking for the entire family. C . . .

Read more

Homework Help: Apps and San Diego Tutoring Services

Homework Help: Apps and San Diego Tutoring Services

Every student needs homework help at some point—sometimes more support than a parent can provide. Here are six educational apps that offer homework help (most available on iTunes and Google Play), . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!