What to Look For In a Nursery School or Playgroup

As in any situation in which you leave your child in someone else's care, your primary concern for a potential nursery-school experience will be that it is safe, beneficial for your child and basically enjoyable. To improve the likelihood of this happening, consider the following:

What is the basic outlook/worldview of the school? Do the teachers and administrators share your values, or will what you teach at home be undermined by the day's events at school?

Do the teachers have special training in working with small children? How long have the teachers been employed there? (A high turnover rate of staff should raise some concerns. If teachers don't stay long, there may be a worrisome reason.)

How many children will be assigned to each teacher? In general, the smaller the classes or groups are, the better.

Are the facilities safe and sound? Are staff members trained to handle an emergency? Is there a reasonable level of cleanliness? If the school accepts children who are not toilet trained, are the changing areas adequately separated from other activities, especially food handling?

Is the school endowed with an adequate supply of toys, games, crafts and other equipment? Does the day's schedule include free playtime as well as structured activities?

What is the school's policy regarding children who are ill? Do you notice kids with runny noses and hacking coughs running around with the others? If sick children are not sent home, you might see a dramatic increase in the number of colds and other illnesses your child develops.

What is the school's approach to discipline? What measures will be taken if your child misbehaves? Do you agree with them?

Does your child know any of the children in the school? Sometimes a familiar face can make a transition into an unfamiliar environment much easier for your child.

Does the staff have any problem if you drop in to see how things are going? Do they encourage parents to be involved with the school? Think twice if a school is resistant to parental visits or participation, which should be welcomed. A school and a child's parents should be teammates, not competitors.

Do you know other families who use the school? Some candid input from graduates of the facility can be very useful when you are making a decision whether or not to send your child there.

Do you sense a real heart for children among the administrators and teachers? Fancy learning programs are far less important at this age than a genuine interest in your child's well-being.

Background Information

Questions and Answers


If you've been through a experience related to this topic, we invite you to share your story with others.
Share Your Story

Other Things to Consider

Transitions: Changing Jobs, Moving

Relationships: Communication Gaps

Parenting Teens: Communication Problems