What to consider before you choose a pre school?

Hours: There's a difference between day care and preschool. Day care often offers more hours for kids of working parents, in a less scheduled environment. Preschool programs tend to be shorter, and more structured. Decide your needs and look for a program that correlates.

Discipline: We all hope to raise perfect angels, but let's get real – a major part of young development is testing boundaries. Ask how the school deals with behaviour such as hitting or biting. Ask how they deal with conflict – do they believe children should work things out themselves? Do they believe in "time outs"? It's important that you agree with a school's disciplinary approach and trust their judgement – small children have a hard time with mixed messages.

Nutrition: One of the great things about preschool is that children are positively influenced by their peers – they may not touch fruit at home, but if everyone else is eating apples, they might be coerced to try them. Of course, they may also be negatively influenced. Does the school have lunch and/or snacks restrictions? If your child has food allergies, make sure they can ensure their safety.

Look at the Art: A picture is worth a thousand words, so look at what's hanging on the walls. Does everything look the same? Are all the crayons within the lines? Some schools emphasize facts: "Trees are green." Others encourage imagination: "Interesting. I've never seen a baby growing on a tree before!"

Visiting: Does the school have an open door policy? Can parents visit at any time, or are there set days for observation? Are there volunteer programs to include parents at school?

Safety How does the school ensure student safety? How do they keep track of pickups at the end of the day?

Philosophy: More brain development occurs in the first five years of life than at any point thereafter. Educators have different views and approaches, even as early as the preschool years. Some schools are completely "play based," others have kids as young as three or four tracing numbers and letters to prepare them for School. It all comes down to learning style.

Every preschool should be clean, safe, and provide a positive learning environment, but there is much more to a school than nice facilities and happy teachers. When choosing a preschool for your child, it is important to ask questions. You might be surprised by what you find out. Hope you find what is best for your child and needs!