What should be considered in determining whether a preschool is the best one for your child? There are no national standards and there is wide variation amongst state standards.
Fortunately,the Texas Education Agency has wonderful standards for pre-school programs in the state of Texas. They address the whole child starting with emotional and social domains.
The TEA standards document can be found by pressing the following link.http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/ed_init/pkguidelines/PKG_Final_100808.pdf. This is a wonderful 125 page document that has very practical guidelines for helping your child. There is a section specifically for families but the whole document I think would be helpful to any parent. There are also other NGOs that publish what they believe should be taught at the pre-K and K level. The National Association for Education of Young Children is my favorite. They have 100,000 members. Their suggestions are in sync with the TEA guidelines above. Their position statement is outlined in the following document:
See if the school you are looking at is familiar with these standards- especially the social and emotional components of it. Unfortunately, many teachers have not read this. If not, then ask how many years they have taught and where they receive their training hours. In general, see if the answers they give to your questions are in line with what you read on this website or with what you see on the TEKS Pre-K Guidelines website listed above.
A clue in what kind of teachers you should look for are two fold:
A) Do they seem to light up when they see the children? Do they like children?
B) What do they think about children? Do they think they are bad and should be punished? Or do they try to see why a child might misbehave? Do they think about developmental timetables for children such as those outlined by occupational therapists, Piaget, etc.? Do they ask themselves if their circle times are too long? Do they give children enough free choice time? Do they set kind and firm limits or limits that involve shaming language or a negative tone? Do they do think about and do the the kind of things written about in this website?