I have come to realize that a lot of parents are not sure what to look for in a preschool. How do they know if it is the right school for their child? Well I can give you some inside tips about preschools. I was a preschool teacher 20 years, as well as an assistant director for 7 of those years. Working with kids is my passion in life. It is why I taught for so long at such a small wage, and it is why I became a nanny, and it is why I foster and adopt the children in my care.
There are lots of tips so I will break them down to one or two tips per blog. My first tip is about teacher turn over. Preschool teachers are paid very low wages. It is statistically proven that 99% of preschool teachers make poverty wages. Many are taken advantage of. Many are unappreciated. In the first year of teaching you can lose your voice, and have several colds while your body is trying to build up immunity to all the new germs you are exposed to. Some “Open school” plans will allow one teacher to have 20-25 children as long as there are enough teachers in the school to cover ratios. And closed room schools are not much better, you are lucky to get a bathroom break if you need to wait for the director or someone else to come into your room so you can leave to use the restroom. Rarely do Preschool teachers get seen as a teacher. They are often considered glorified babysitters. And it is rare to find a preschool that actually gives it’s teachers their 2/10 minute breaks, and some barely get a lunch if they are to short of staff to cover ratios. You are also required, hours are set depending on which state you work in, to do 15-25 hours of continuing education every year. These hours are unpaid. Most preschool teachers not only teach but clean up vomit, and potty accidents, while also trying to keep 15 children from getting into trouble. They also are the janitors of the school, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning up from lunches, etc. So why do we choose to teach in a preschool?
Some teach to get by while in school. Especially those who are seeking a degree in any career working with children. Some do it for the hours, always off nights and weekends. Some are big kids themselves and then there are some who have a passion for making a difference in the lives of children. It is a career for them. And they spend much of their “personal time” thinking of new and exciting ways to teach. These are the teachers you are looking for. Keep in mind that some teachers may start out in a preschool not having any intention of staying long and then wind up loving what they do so much that their reason for staying changes.
When looking for a school, ask the director how long she has been at this center and how long she has been the director. Ask about turn over. Ask how long the the teacher with the most senority has been at the school. It is rare, but if you find a school with a teacher that has been there for at least 3-5 years then the school treats them right or the teacher has a passion for teaching. If you find a school with several teachers that have been there that long or longer, then snag the school. It means not only do the teachers have a passion for teaching, but that the director helps to keep them from being over stressed. You want a director to be active with their teachers. yes there are things she has to do outside of being in a classroom, but a good director always remembers what it was like to teach before they became a director. If you can find a school like this, and they do exist, then grab it! Preschools with a low turn over rate are not easy to find, but they do exist. And even though this is not the only thing to look for, it is in my opinion, one of the most important ones.