How do I know I am picking the best preschool for my child?” is the most common question we receive. It seems hard to know and many of us are racked with self-doubt. But think about how you make decisions everyday both at home and on the job. You do your best and evaluate the results. If the results don’t live up to your expectations, you change what you are doing to improve the result. For many of us this is such a natural process that we don’t really think about it. Determining if your preschool is doing this self-assessment is one of the best ways to find the best preschools and to insure that the preschool you do select is capable of providing your child with an individualized approach within the context of the classroom structure. Most of all it insures that the preschoolyou are considering puts your child’s success (results) ahead of its own convenience, curriculum or history.

Think about it. What is the “result” of a preschool teacher‘s everyday effort? Its the success, growth, happiness and confidence of your child. So a preschool that doesn’t regularly assess the success, growth, happiness and confidence of your child is equivalent to a person that continues to use the same mechanic even through they are never able to fix the car. Unfortunately, many preschools do not conduct regular self-assessments. These preschoolshave themselves stopped learning and cling to a particular curriculum like dogma. “Tried and true” is extraordinarily valuable but you only know that a curriculum is still “true” if you assess it regularly. The only way to assess its “true-ness” is to assess the benefits it provides your child.

Many preschoolswill “assess” their curriculum against other curriculum put forward by accrediting agencies or other schools. But this is the same as assuming that your mechanic can fix your Toyota simply because they can fix Chevys. It might seem reasonable as a place to start the assessment – but unless the preschool assesses the results of the curriculum and its benefit for your child – they are ignoring that the Toyota still doesn’t run.

When evaluating preschools, ask the teachers and administrators about how they conduct self-assessments. If you get the deer-in-the-headlights response; find another school. If you get a complex response that cites corporate quality assurance standards or a national accreditation process; dig further. The only valid method for preschool and preschool teacher self-assessment is through assessment of the results demonstrated in the lives of the preschool’s students.

If your preschool does provide you with an assessment of your child that you believe is not consistent with your assessment – challenge the school as to how the preschoolis going to address your child’s “problem” in the curriculum and on a daily basis. Other wise the preschool is acting as the mechanic that tells you that your car has a problem but doesn’t fix it. Part of self-assessment is taking responsibility for improvement. A preschool that doesn’t take responsibility for improvement of its own results and the benefits delivered to you and your child is a preschool that doesn’t actually understand their important role in your child’s life.

When evaluating schools for review on Massachusetts Preschools.org – this is an essential requirement. It should be essential for you and your child too.

P.S. This applies to public and private preschools as well as kindergarten programs too. Don’t assume that public preschools conduct strong results-oriented assessments of the benefits they are providing your child. A “report card” does not suffice as an indicator of a quality preschool or kindergarten program. Quality preschool and kindergarten programs look at a “poor report card” and immediately assess – “what do we need to do to improve the education we are providing this child”. Short of that, in most cases, the preschool or kindergarten is transferring blame for their own failure to your child.