Keeping Your Child Safe in Preschool
Choosing a Preschool is an important first step in your child’s education. Make sure they are safe by checking for the things listed below when you visit schools. On the last blog we presented the importance of high quality teachers and low turnover so children have positive interactions with caring and consistent teachers. In this blog we will focus on health and safety in the environment.
Is the facility you are considering safe? Here are some of the aspects you should consider regarding safety:
1. The facility should be clean, bright and safe! Look for or ask about these areas of safety:
• Is the facility secure from strangers?
• Are the doors secured, yet parents have free access?
• Is there a security system in place for parents to sign the children into to school?
2. Are Emergency Plans and procedures posted?
• What are the emergency pick up procedures?
• Are there procedures notifying parents of early closing or weather delays?
• Do they conduct monthly fire drills?
• Look for posted logs – schools are required to post a log of their fire drills.
• Are there Emergency Evacuation plans? You may have to ask about this as some plans are confidential. Schools should a plan even if they can’t divulge the specifics.
3. Is the environment safe?
• Proper ratios are key to good supervision and safely monitoring children. Infant rooms should have a maximum of 1 teacher to 4 children and preschool classes should have a maximum of 1 to 10.
• Is there an open door policy? Parents should be able to visit at any time.
• Are there viewing windows?
• Are all the electrical outlets covered?
• Are all hazardous materials, including medications, out of reach of children?
4. Playground surface
• Is the playground surface soft?
• Is the playground area protected by a fence?
• Has the playground been inspected?
• Is there adequate and engaged supervision on the playground?
• Is the facility clean? A preschool facility is an active place and you may see a little paint on the floor or playdough on the tables, but the overall appearance of the facility should be clean. If it is too sterile, you might question if developmentally appropriate activities are happening.
• Are children and teachers required to constantly wash their hands?
• How are toys cleaned?
• How often is the facility cleaned?
6. Credentials of the school
• All schools in NJ must be licensed; is the school licensed?
• Accreditation is the gold standard of quality; is the school accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)?
• All schools should be inspected by the fire inspector and health department. Has the school been inspected?
7. Health policies
• Are medical records kept on all children including current immunization records?
• Are there policies for dealing with sick children?
• Are there policies regarding giving children medications?
• Is staff trained in CPR and First Aid for young children?
• How are staff credentials checked?
• Does the school require fingerprinting, Cari Check, references and health records?
• Do the teachers receiving ongoing training and continuing education opportunities?
• What is the turnover rate of staff, consistency is a key indicator of quality.
• Does staff have ongoing continuing education?