The right questions to ask
• How many staff members are there and are they qualified? Personnel should be trained well. They should be enthusiastic about the children.
• What is the teacher per child
ratio? The ideal is one adult to five children for children between two to three years old and one: seven for three- and four-year-old children. For children older than five the ratio is fifteen to one.
• Which age groups are grouped together in a class? The age difference should not exceed two years. There is a huge difference between the skills of a three-year-old compared to a five-year-old.
• What does the school’s routine or programme look like? A good playschool works out and schedules activities. They follow a structured schedule. Most children flourish within predictable structures and routines. The school should work in enough time for physical activities, story time, group and individual activities and free play.
• Is the school licensed? You must request to see proof that the school is licensed.
• What is the policy on sick children? It is important that sick children are not allowed at school. Your entire household can get sick if your little one brings home germs from school.
• How do they instil discipline? Are you comfortable with the way discipline is instilled? All playschools should have a policy in place to make sure that children learn right from wrong. A child that bites children, for example, needs to be stopped.
• Does the school have an open door policy? Can parents pop in at any time for a visit? While you are searching for the right school you can pop in unannounced to observe what is going on. This will give you a good idea of how they really operate. Do the children look happy and relaxed? Are children properly and adequately supervised in the classroom and on the playground? Is the place hygienic? A visit will also give you an idea of the security. A playschool that you can just casually waltz into at any time should signal alarm bells.
• What happens during school holidays? Find out if the school is open during school and public holidays. Is someone available to look after your children during the afternoon if you are a bit late?
• How often will you get a progress report? It should be quarterly.
• Hidden costs? Ask if any other fees are payable besides the compulsory school fees and registration.