How to find the best preschool for your Child?
When those baby steps turns towards the world, a fear sets in, in the hearts of parents. Separation anxiety, fear of how our child will be faring, will he/she be taken care of and pampered, what about their food, sleep and ample queries hover around. But those are the steps which start the exposure of your toddler and bring them into the real world. And this experience begins with “Playschool or Preschool”.
It is the time, you toddler enters here and comes out as a preschooler, ready to take on the formal school environments. This initial experience is what sets a child and the parents for a creative journey of their life.
Selecting a preschool can be really exciting, as being a parent, you want the best for your child. But which all factors you wish to be considered is what matters now, as your child will be spending the very initial formative years of their childhood in the preschool. And that’s why an ample research is required before tapping on one school.
We had a similar phase 1.5years back and today, just as my son is about to finish his preschool and enter in the formal school, I wanted to share some tips, which I considered very closely for my child.
Knowing the ABC of selecting the best preschool for your child :
- Is the school near to your home or workplace? (the answer should always be “YES”)
- The school fee, are you satisfied with it? Always mark up the final figure, as that usually happens, with small expenses on the way always.
- What is the Duration of the school ? Mostly preschools are close to 3 hours in duration.
- Is the school accredited and has all the running mandatory certificates?
- Incase you wish for school transport, check if the transportation is available?
- Does the school offers day care facility? Incase you need it after the school hours.
- What is the class size and Teacher : Kids ratio?
Once you are perfectly satisfied with these basic questions, then turn to the below mentioned more refined, but must questions.
Tips on how to choose the best preschool for your child :
1. Director, Teachers and Nanny :
As a parent, we need to understand these 3 people in the school closely. The warmth they have, the way they are going to bond with the child, their approach to train toddlers and make them feel safe needs to be observed.
It is very important to know whether the teachers and the school management believe in encouraging all kids and promote them to maintain their inquisitiveness?
How are the nannies dressed up and conversing? Do you find them soft, polite and loving?
A warm atmosphere is what a toddler wants as they move to explore the world outside and this warmth is all what depends on the teachers and nannies, who would be handling them everyday.
2. School Educational Philosophy :
Some schools focus more on writing and learning, while some have a creative approach. Understand the Philosophy that the school practises and map it with your mindset. Some schools may have traditional way of teachings while others may work on the Philosophy of Jean Piagét or Maria Montessori or other proven practises. Everything is perfect, till it matches the parents wavelength. Few schools opt for worksheet and “No bag” theory, while most of the schools have really glam books. I personally always preferred work sheet approach, as it entails different approaches to learning.
As a parent you should know the common approaches as :
- Montessori Approach : Which lays emphasis on the independence and individuality of the child. It respects every child’s Social, physical and psychological developments and doesn’t promote child to child comparison.
- The Reggio Emilia Approach : Current day many schools mix Emilia approach to Montessori and Waldorf approach. This approach deals in developing the kids via exploration. They promote painting, drama, free play, creative activities, which in turn develops a child’s innate qualities and skills.
- The Waldorf Approach : It emphasises on the use of imaginations while learning , promote more of analytical thinking. The concept of ‘circle time,’ where kids sit together, sing some rhymes, discuss the highlights of the day, is one practise which is used in most of the schools and is an outcome of this approach.
3. Opportunities to develop Gross and fine motor skills :
Preschool is all about fun with development. This is the time, wherein a child’s Gross and fine motor skills develop and hence activities as physical play, messy plays, beading, scribbling and similar are very important. Ask the school teachers, how do they promote these developments. What objects are there is school which help in Gross motor development. Observe very keenly.
“Read some day to day activities helping in Gross and Fine motor skills of a child here .”
4. Communication Policies :
Check the communication policy of the school. Are teachers available for free chat’s or to share the feedback every week? Is the school approachable on mails and calls? Do they inform about the curriculum and explain the advantages? Is the Holiday scheduler, event planners for the year pre planned? Incase the food is served from the school, how about having a daily menu with yourself?
Keep a track of these questions, once your child is enrolled, all these questions will slowly clutter your mind.
5. Separation Guidelines :
Most of the toddlers undergo Separation anxiety, when they step out of the house, without their mommy and daddy. It is quite obvious to see kids crying. But what matters is how the school deals with the separation anxiety? Do they ask you to sit inside and share the comfy feel with the child or are you asked to say bye bye from the day 2 itself? Schools can have either of the approach and it is always better to know before the enrolment.
Read here for tips to deal with Separation anxiety.
6. Hygiene and Meals :
Take a tour of the preschool, look closely at the washrooms, toys. Are they sanitized and clean? Incase the school provides the meal, do try to inspect the kitchen as well, to know how hygiene things are. Query over the type of meals served, are they balanced and nutritious? Are the basic etiquette’s of hands wash and going to washroom followed before the meals start? Do kids sit on their table chairs while eating? What if they aren’t able to feed themselves? One needs to keep these hygiene and food factors in mind before finalising the preschool , so that our child remains healthy.
7. Parental feedback :
No school is gonna portray something negative or bad about themselves. But their facts should be close to the real practises. Do a dipstick check with the parents of kids who are already studying in that school. Be very clear with the anxieties you have, as in, How are they going to help settle my child, how will they go about with Toilet training? Are the kids getting developed creatively with their approaches? It is always good to take the real time feedback of the pros and cons and then weigh them to arrive at a conclusion.
8. Potty Training :
This is a phase when your child will be in the process of getting Potty trained and would soon say bye bye to the diapers. I always preferred a school that supports no diapers, after the age of 2.5years. But there are few, which prefer that kids come in diapers only until they are fully toilet trained from the house. Do ask the school management of their expectations on this subject matter very clearly.
9. Safety :
Well, that should be the prime factor for our precious kids in the backdrop of rising criminal cases. Check for yourself during the school hours, what are the security measures taken inside the premises and close to the dispersal gate. How are the kids handed over while dispersal is another safety factor. Do kids have ID cards, with approved people who can pick them? Is there a guard at the exit gate always ensuring safety. Get the answer to all these security questions. A small lapse can cause a big tragedy. Better be safe!
10. Take the help of Google King:
Well, most of the schools have their own websites and social media handles, mostly on facebook. Check them to know of the community, activities, resources, reviews you can get from there. Try to understand the type of kids coming to the school and their parents. You could find a lovely friend in your child’s friend’s mommy, if the audience this school is catering to, is similar to yours. Try to keep the level at home and school same for the growing child.
And believe me, I too faced separation anxiety for my child, but it was taken care off with much warmth and affection. Since I tracked on all these factors, I was a happy mom, seeing the way my child grew in his existing pre school. And hence this post came across for all new mommies planning to send their kids to Preschool this season!
All the best,