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Choosing A Preschool Program

Parent's Role

As a parent of a preschool age child you'll want to carefully select child care. Use this guide along with the enclosed checklist to evaluate programs you are considering for your child.

1. Call

... several programs/providers to find out details on cost, hours, programs available, and location.

2. Visit

... at least two programs/providers and evaluate them to make the right choice for you and your child.

3. Monitor

... the program/provider you have chosen on a daily basis but also drop in unannounced. If you have questions or concerns about the care your child is getting, communicate those concerns to the caregiver or to the director of the program.

4. Evaluate

daily schedule

  • Is the daily schedule posted and does it indicate the activities which will be included in the day?

  • Is there time for active and quiet play; time for outdoor play when the weather is nice?

  • Is there a balance between teacher-directed activities and child-directed activities?

  • Is television time limited and supervised?

  • Are children free to choose their own activities?


  • Does each child have his/her own cot?

  • Is nap/rest time peaceful and relaxing?

  • Is nap/rest time suited to the needs of each child?

  • Is the room darkened and soothing attention given to each child as he/she falls asleep?


  • Does the director of the preschool program have a degree or coursework in early childhood development?

  • Does the staff member:

    • Greet the child and parent warmly?

    • Laugh with, talk to, and listen to each child?

    • Use positive discipline?

    • Give love and attention to each child?

    • Work well with other adults?

    • Participate in on-going, in-service training on issues relating to the care of the children?

    • Share the same views on discipline and toilet training as you do?

    • Encourage independence?


  • Are there a variety of objects to stimulate the senses of sight, hearing, and touch?

  • Are the toys appropriate to the ages of the children?

  • Are the toys large enough to avoid being a choking hazard?

  • Are there high chairs with seat belts for the youngest preschoolers and child sized tables and chairs for the older preschoolers?

  • Is the equipment adequate, age appropriate, and clean?

  • Are toys and materials easy for children to reach?

  • Are there toys for different kinds of play?m books

    • puzzles

    • blocks

    • art supplies

    • balls

    • music

    • sand and water

    • science experiments

    • dress-up clothes

    • riding toys


  • Are nutritious meals and snacks provided?

  • Are the meal times relaxed and enjoyable?

  • Are good health habits encouraged, i.e. hand washing before eating?

  • Are individual children's cultural and religious food preferences met, if requested?

  • Is food ever withheld as a punishment?

toilet training

  • Is the toileting area clean, well ventilated, odor-free, and located away from eating areas?

  • Is toileting included in the daily schedule as a natural and pleasant part of a day's activities?

  • Are accidents treated casually as a natural part of the learning process, being certain that children are not humiliated or embarrassed?


  • Is the center bright, cheerful, and clean?

  • Is the sound level moderate _ not too loud yet not too quiet?

  • Is there a designated place for each child to keep his/her possessions?

  • Is there enough space indoors and out so all children can move about freely and safely?

  • Is the child's artwork displayed and is it at the child's eye level?

  • q Are the toys and equipment in good condition?

  • Are cleaning supplies and other dangerous substances locked out of reach of children?

  • Are safety procedures followed?

  • Are there lots of pillows and mats for soft, cozy areas; carpets and tile areas for a variety of experiences?

  • Are electrical outlets covered?

  • Are there gates at stairwells and doorways?

  • Are there smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?

  • Are there at least two exits to the outside? 

health & safety

  • Is there a medical emergency and evacuation plan posted?

  • Is an operable phone on the premises?

  • Is there an updated first aid kit containing:

    • syrup of Ipecac

    • scissors

    • sterile gauze pads and surgical tape

    • thermometer (axillary use only)

    • bandages

    • medicine dropper or spoon

  • Are the children's health records complete and on file?

  • Are emergency phone numbers and the parent's emergency numbers posted by the phone?

  • Are fire drills practiced and a list kept with dates and times?

  • Are the guidelines for management of communicable disease posted?

  • Are ill children isolated, supervised, and parents called immediately?


Ask for references from each center. Call these references yourself. Be sure they seem satisfied with the center. Listen to the tone of voice as well as the answer to your questions. Ask questions such as:

  • Is this center reliable and responsible?

  • What did you like the most/least about this center?

  • Would you choose this center again?

  • Did your child like this center?


What are the program policies?

  • How are children enrolled?

  • Is there a credit for vacations?

  • Is there a refund for sick days?

  • Are you comfortable with the discipline policy?

  • Are parents welcome at all times?

  • May the child visit the classroom before enrolling?

  • What is the policy on transportation of children?


The state of Ohio licenses early childhood programs and certain types of family child care providers. The state sets minimum standards for health and safety, staff qualifications, program requirements, and nutritious meals. The day care licensing law limits the number of children that may be cared for by one staff person.

One person may care for:

Age of Child No. of Children
30 months - 35 months 8
3 years old but not yet 4 12
4 years through kindergarten 14


  • Is the program licensed by the State of Ohio or approved by the State of Ohio Department of Education?

  • Is the license/certification posted for your review?

preschool programs types included:

  • Child Care Center: a full-time program which operates 10-12 hours a day, five days a week year round and has an enrollment of usually 35 or more children.

  • Nursery School: a part-time program, operating two and a half hours in the morning or afternoon during the school year. The number of days a child attends varies: two, three, or five days per week. Enrollment is usually 18 or more children.

  • Cooperative Nursery: usually a part-time program owned and operated by parents who hire an early childhood professional to direct the program.


Child Care Connection does not endorse, rate, recommend, or evaluate child care resources, programs, or providers and therefore, Child Care Connection does not assume, warrant, or guarantee quality care. Any information about a caregiver/provider has been provided solely by that caregiver/provider. Child Care Connection believes that consumers are in the best position to evaluate and choose resources appropriate to their child's needs.


Part of a state-wide network of referral agencies, Child Care Connection serves Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Summit, Stark, and Trumbull Counties in Ohio.

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