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Jan. 19th, 2011

mom tattoo

Those Probing Nursery School Questions!

By request, and in the "in my head" language, not necessarily the phrasing I would use at a site visit.

A lot of it is simple administrative stuff:

* Since the twins have a fall birth, how old do they have to be by what date to enroll?
* What are your fees and deadlines? Process of selection?
* What is your daily schedule like? Not just hours of operation, but the routine.
* But also, what hours do you keep? How flexible is that? Is there extended care?

Other stuff:

* Can I drop in any time? (In California, the answer is yes by law.)
* Do they have to be potty-trained? If not, how do you handle potty training?
* How diverse is your staff? On what axes?
* How diverse is your child and parent community? On what axes?
* Are you going to freak out when you find out that my kids have three parents?
* You're not going to assume they're white, are you?
* For co-ops: what level of involvement do you require? Who can fulfill it? In school or out of school?
* What's your child-to-teacher ratio?
* What's your staff turnover rate?
* What training does your staff have?
* What is your curricular philosophy? How flexible is it?
* How structured? How much free play?
* Is your emphasis on social and emotional development, academics, some of both, other?
* How do you handle kids who need extra help in some area?
* Who is responsible for lunch and/or snacks -- parents or the facility? If the latter, what sorts of meals do they offer? If the former, any restrictions on what to bring?
* How do you discipline children?
* Are different age groups segregated or mixed?
* How much time do they spend outside? What do you do on rainy days?
* Do you take field trips? Any special classes or visiting instructors, like a music or a language teacher?

And things I mostly try to observe:

* What kind of art projects are the children doing?
* What's on the walls? On the bookshelf?
* How gendered does the play look, and how do the teachers handle it?
* And how about that diversity thing -- is it visually present? Are there black dolls, for example?
* How is the space set up for kids?
* How secure is the space? (i.e. nobody's gonna be able to run into the street, right?)
* Is there a variety of activities for kids to do?
* How about those potty spaces?

But, you know, I'm in California, so I also totally cop to relying on vibes. Do I like their vibe, yes/no?

Anything I missed?