Finding the right preschool is probably the first major ‘life-impacting’ decision we make for our kids, it is bound to be a bit daunting.
The awareness of the positive impacts of early education on a child’s social and academic life, with as many preschools mushroomed in every nook and corner, further effects the decision of choosing the right playschool.
Preschools, in their current avatar, are educational institutions where kids as young as ten months old can join, though each school has a different policy regarding this. They provide an environment to discover and explore freely within the various areas of development and are recommended as a supplement to learning at home. Preschools also introduce important social skills – learning how to follow directions, interact with others, working in a group or part of a team and to relate to grownups who are not their parents. Students graduate from preschool between 4 years of age to 6 years of age depending on their readiness for high school and admissions.
The process of choosing THE PRESCHOOL should be joyful rather than stressful as there are many good choices available to parents today that can give your child a great experience.
When evaluating a preschool, ideally there are certain suggestive priorities parents should look for:
A good swanky infrastructure necessarily may not have experienced or skilled facilitators. The center head or the principal is the face of any preschool. She can give a correct picture of the facilities and the environment the preschool has to offer and she remains usually the one point of contact. The teachers should have excellent communication skills as this is the period of rapid language development in toddlers. Also, the preschool must employ various teaching aids like Montessori apparatus, a kids’ library, outdoor playing space, and audio visuals as teaching supplements activities like storytelling and yoga, for developing social skills, concentration and confidence of kids. A good preschool regularly offers value added programmes for parents too. This is to enlighten the parents about the various ways in which they can move towards quality parenting. It follows a routine so that the kids actually come and learn joyfully rather than only play. The syllabus should be readily shared with the parents so that there is similar developmental support from the parents too. Toilet training, developing independent and good eating habits, practicing good manners, independent writing skills, all these are a part and parcel of a good preschool. Apart from these, parents must look for good ambiance, hygiene, cleanliness, security and safety in a preschool. The attendants should also be trained, well behaved and well groomed. You need to be impressed by the people who run the school and those who will teach your child. Start by checking if the teacher-student ratio is suitable to provide each child appropriate attention, and are the teachers qualified to deal with children of this age. Another critical safety concern should be how the school keeps track of students at drop and dispersal time.
A good way to start is to talk to parents of the preschool you are seeking and see what kind of experiences their children have had. Always ask the school to spell out their individual philosophy and teaching methods for you.
Quick questions for parents:
- To what extent are children allowed to make choices about what they learn and when? How much of the activity is teacher-directed versus child-directed? Is learning regimented or are children given a chance to express their creativity and learn independence?
- How holistic is the school in its educational ideas? That is, does it take children’s social and emotional growth and developing values as seriously as it takes the Three R’s?
- Ask how the school deals with discipline and conflict – do they believe children should work things out themselves? Do they believe in “time outs”?
Some schools have an open door policy for parents while some are very strict about parent visits. Find out how the school plans to keep you updated about your child’s progress and what their policy for interaction with teachers is.
Convenience of location is important but a next door neighborhood school may not always be a good idea. Monetary considerations are also on the list of selection criteria, but that is probably the most black and white decision you have to make – either you can afford a particular school’s fee or you can’t. With the rest of the parameters, you will have to juggle them around, compensating one for the other until you finally decide on the preschool that will give your child a wonderful and happy introduction to education.
Happy Schooling! 🙂