Beyond considerations of location and price, important qualities to asses when determining the early learning center that is appropriate for your child include the school's educational philosophy, class size, teacher training, academic focus and class activities, notes PBS. Other things to consider are parent involvement, the school's approach to social-emotional issues and discipline procedures, as well as its overall atmosphere.
Most early learning programs have a stated educational philosophy, a way that they approach teaching and learning. Some centers have a play-based approach, whereas others employ more of an academic focus or a blend of the two. Other programs follow specific educational models, including Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf. It is important to find a school that follows the approach you most value.
Every state mandates that child care facilities follow a certain adult-child ratio, usually a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio for toddlers and increasing with age. While some programs follow this strictly, others lower the ratio to provide more adult interaction and supervision. Some programs have larger group sizes with more adults; for example, a class of 20 preschoolers with two adults. Finding the right size for your child's specific needs is critical.
Gauge teacher and staff morale. Ask about teacher turnover and observe whether the staff seem happy and engaged, withdrawn or bored. Consistency is vital for preschoolers, so a staff that rotates out frequently might be unsettling for your child.