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Parenting : How to Choose a Preschool

August 20, 1993|MARYANN HAMMERS

When it comes to selecting a preschool, word of mouth is often the best reference. Talk to parents and ask what they like--and don't like--about the facility their child attends. Then visit the school to look around and talk to teachers, directors and other parents. Child development experts and parents suggest you pay attention to the following:

* Classes should be fairly small, with at least two adults in groups of no more than 16 to 20 children. Teachers should be nurturing and responsive. Children should look happy and be busily involved in a variety of activities, such as block building, painting, reading stories, dress-up and outdoor play.

* There should be sufficient toys, puzzles, picture books and equipment, especially playthings that encourage children to use their imagination and explore their environment. Blocks and balls foster physical development and motor skills; paints stimulate creativity; plants and animals teach children how to care for living things.

* Classrooms and play areas should be spacious, healthy and safe. Furniture, sinks and toilets should be accessible to children; the facility and equipment should be clean and in good repair; toxic materials should be locked in a cabinet; hard surfaces should be cushioned; play areas should be shaded.

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