Pre-school is the first step in your child’s education. And as such, it is crucial to make the right choice. Today’s world is quite a competitive place, so parents want to make sure that their children are well-prepared for handling it and succeeding in life. Believe it or not, for many parents it starts as soon as their child is born. There are so many available options nowadays, hence it’s quite difficult for parents to choose the right pre-school institution. It is such a complex and time-consuming process as there are many essential factors to take into consideration.
First of all, you should start with taking a deep breath and thinking about what is important to you regarding a preschool. You should have your child’s personality in mind during the whole process. The next step is about doing a thorough research and making a list of potential preschools. It’s also important to take a good look at the teachers, regarding their education, personality and interaction with kids. The environment is yet another key aspect you should observe closely. Of course, the curriculum is another aspect you should check out to see if it fits with your expectations. Another thing is that you should find out about their policies on discipline, food, sleep and illness. And last but not the least, cleanliness and safety are essential and implied.
Consider what is important to you (and your child)
Even though you don’t need to go deep as you would if you were starting your own preschool program, you still need to make some rough evaluations. It’s good to emphasize that are many different types of pre-school centres. When I say different, I mean with different curriculum and hence aims. For instance, there are centres that focus on an academic program mostly, but there are also those that focus on creativity and more on social skills. Obviously, all of them have their advantages and disadvantages. What will help you decide is your child’s unique personality and to a lesser extent, your expectations. But more on that in the following paragraph. In order for children to thrive, they need to grow in the right environment. That’s why it’s essential to invest sufficient time in this step and make the right choice.
Have in mind your child and its personality
As briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph, when considering diverse preschools, you should always have in mind your child and its personality. Different things work for different kids. So, what you should do is spend some time thinking about your child. But really thinking. Ask yourself questions about what kind of environment they thrive in, what the things that excite them are, what things make them nervous or at ease, if they perform better in structured or free environments, and so on. Also, think about their physical readiness, are they physically active or passive? Take into consideration what the most challenging things will be. Choosing the right child care is not an easy task and it requires quite a lot of thinking and research. It’s also essential to keep in mind your expectations and the things you’d like your child to achieve after a year spent in a certain institution.
Do your research and make a list of pre-schools
There are several ways you can approach this step. The best one to start with is by asking your friends, family and neighbours about some personal recommendations. This is a sure way as personal experience can tell you a lot about a particular child care centre. Try to be objective and also consider the fact that all children are different. Then, when you have done this, regardless of whether you had who to ask and if you liked or not the suggestions, you should conduct your own research. Use Google. Usually, what is important to parents is the proximity of the preschool. This is so due to the fact that most parents work a lot and commute to work, so distance plays a key role in making a choice. We are often limited in time, so it’s good if we can find a quality preschool that is close by.
Take a good look at the teachers
The teachers are the essence of a preschool, so we should take a good look at them. There are actually a few things you should keep in mind. These are their education and experience, personality and commitment to the job as well as their interaction with kids.
Let’s start with education. This is key. You want well-educated and well-trained people working with your kids. In order for your kids to be able to learn, they need to have a good teacher. It’s simple. Many preschools have on their website a list of their employees, where their education is listed. Even if they don’t have this, you can always ask a preschool to share this information with you. Also, what you should look at is their education. It is important but not deciding. There are also good and enthusiastic teachers who have just finished their training and who are eager to start shaping these young minds. After all, even though there are new education robots for kids, you can’t replace a live person who has a brain of their own so easily with a piece of tech.
Next, when you have the aspect of education covered, it’s time to move to their personality. The teachers should be positive and caring, as it has been found that children thrive from the trusting relationships they build with their teachers. Other characteristics a teacher should have include being happy, upbeat, in good spirit and smiling. Teachers should be nurturing and they should always try to answer children’s questions (even though sometimes there are many of them). They should be patient and engage in positive interactions rather than negative ones. Scalding and yelling at kids is unacceptable.
Interaction with the children
The relationship a teacher should make with children should be interactive and engaging. It is implied that it is expected on a daily basis. The interaction should consist of thought-provoking questions that require kids to think deeper and express their opinion. The interaction should be both ways, teachers need to motivate kids to speak freely. They should inspire them with their words. Praising children is also encouraged. Teaching should consist of so much more than just mere lectures. They should be interwoven with quality play such as games, videos, songs, stories and crafts.
Observe the environment
When looking at the facility, both from the inside and the outside, it should lure you to want to go there and learn. Usually, these institutions are painted in bright colours and feature some cartoon heroes on the outside. The aim is to attract kids’ attention and to actually look inviting to them. As far as inside is concerned, it should be clean and safe, for starters. It should also have plenty of educational and free play toys, which are placed in such a way that children can reach them easily. There should be some playing mats, books and other props. The chairs and tables should be appropriate for their age. If there is an outside play area (and there usually is) it should be fenced and well-secured.
Check out the curriculum
The curriculum is also something you should check out. Some institutions have it posted on their website, while others are ready to disclose it upon request. So, don’t hesitate to ask them. It will help you make the final decision. Some of the curriculums focus on fostering independence, some on creativity, some on intentional learning and others on child-centred education. There are some that follow a child’s natural development as well.
Make sure you are familiar with their policies on discipline, food, sleep and illness
Besides the things we mentioned, you should also make sure that you are familiar with other, essential policies. These include a preschool’s policy on discipline, food, sleep and illness, among other things. Check out the disciplinary rules on time outs, meeting with the teacher and principal as well as expulsion. Generally, you should find out how they deal with potential problems. As far as the food is concerned, you can ask for a menu to see what kind of food will they be serving. Also, if your child doesn’t want to eat certain foods – ask them how they deal with these kinds of issues. It’s good to be familiar with the sleep schedule as well as what to do in times of illness.
Pay attention to cleanliness and safety
Even though this is implied, it’s good to stress it. You don’t want your child to get hurt, so you should be mindful of these things. Of course, accidents happen, but there shouldn’t be any things lying around that could hurt a child. Also, you should make sure that all the outlets are appropriately installed as well as staircase fences to avoid accidents.
Choosing the right preschool could dictate your child’s future, that’s why it is essential to do everything you can to make the right choice.