The very idea of your child going to a pre-school for the first time can create both a feeling of dread as well as anticipation in a parent’s mind. There could be hundreds of questions streaming through your head about the pre-school that you think is the best for your child. Moreover, there are so many preschool options to choose from that one might get confused in selecting a particular school. Although, there are many things which a parent should think about before getting his/her child enrolled in to any program ; the first details that should be considered are the practicalities related to any pre-school like the school hours, the distance from your home, transportation if need be.
Parents should be well aware about the admission procedure and the related formalities along with the timeline for the same. The hunt for a pre-school also depends on the area in which you reside. If it’s a large city there are many options available, but if you are away from such an area, then it is better that you start your research almost a year prior to the enrollment. This will give you time to thoroughly check out the schools and also do a bit of research on them so that they are in sync with your expectations and beliefs.
Given below are some of the suggestions that parents need to keep in mind while looking for a pre-school for their child.
a) Knowing the Educational Thought Process of the Pre-School:
Educational thought process of any institution is one of the most important aspects that need to be looked at by the parents while looking for enrollment of their child. It is very important that the pre-school is open and inclusive of the parents’ involvement in their child’s activities. Parents should take care to choose a program that would not just be a typical drill and practice session but where their child could make his or her own choice about what they want to learn. This gives the children a better scope to learn without feeling too burdened.
Pre-school is an entirely new world for the children. They step out of the comfort zone of their parents’ love and care and step into a place which is unknown to them. In such cases there is a chance that they may feel lonely and lost. And this is where the pre-school and the parents need to join hands to make them comfortable. If the pre-school is open and includes the parents in their activities, it will work for the advantage of the children. As part of this process, the family should be aware about the daily routine of the child and the activities that are taken up at the institution. The pre-school should encourage a feedback from the parents’ side too. This open communication proves very effective for the proper development of the child.
b) The Experience and Educational Background of the Staff
Pre-school is the first step towards the learning experience the child gets and if it starts on a good note then the proper development of the child is assured. And to ensure that this happens, the parents should get proper information about the staff and teachers of the pre-school they have approached. The teacher of the school should be well trained and should have a caring attitude towards the children. A happy and smiling teacher instills joy and happiness amongst the students while a dour and unhappy teacher instills fear and apprehension. The parents should ensure that the teacher is professionally trained to teach in the pre-school. A good teacher always understands the children and their behavior and accordingly handles them. Another thing that should be considered is that the teaching as well as the non-teaching staff is trained and certified in first aid and CPR.
c) Physical Activity – A Part of the Curriculum of the Pre-School
The young toddlers are a very physically active group and the pre-school should have enough opportunities for active play. Any kind of physical activity is very important as that helps in developing the gross motor skills of a child. This also helps in maintaining the overall well-being of the young one. But along with this a time table of the activities is also a must. Pre-school children love stringing beads, ripping apart the paper and scribbling. All these activities help in developing their fine motor skills which would later help them in the kindergarten too.
d) Are there regular naps at the pre-school?
These young ones need to rest at some point of time during the day and that too at around the same time each day. Please inquire about the facilities that the pre-school provides for the nap like the nap mat, pillow and sheet. You should also ask whether the school is going to provide or you need to send it from home. And if you are sending it from home, will it be cleaned in the Pre-school or sent home for weekly cleaning?
e) Does the Pre-School Provide Snacks and Meals?
One of the most important things for a growing child is food and this is one of the things parents should ensure before putting their child in any pre-school. They should enquire whether the school provides for the snacks or meals or they have to send it from home. And if the pre-school provides the food then what kind of diet is given to the children. Is there any kind of routine that is being followed before the meals like washing hands or going to the washroom? Will the table manners be very strict or will the little ones be able to socialize during meals? Interaction during the meals is important for the young ones.
f) Toilet Training
One should always ensure whether the child should be toilet trained before joining the pre-school or will the school assist in the process of training. Some of the pre-schools make it mandatory that the child should be toilet trained at home only but what about the occasional mishaps that could happen. After all the children are very young and might not be able to tell. Please also ask whether you need to send an extra pair of clothes, just in case.
g) How is Discipline ensured in the Classroom?
The child should be very clear about the reward and discipline that is metered out in the class. Discipline should be by redirection of activities first, and then progressive steps should be outlined in order to understand the escalation procedure. This aspect of maintaining discipline should also be taken into account by the parents. There could be a reward chart in the classroom or special gifts for a deed well done. The whole process depends on the teacher who is handling the children. If she has a positive attitude, then it automatically gets transmitted to the children. Young ones can be moody and the teacher should be gracious enough to acknowledge that and treat the child likewise.
h) References by the School
Word of mouth publicity in such conditions works wonders. Ask for references from parents, from the teacher or the management personnel. Talk to other parents and get their opinion about the pre-school, the staff, facilities being provided and overall environment at the place. Also enquire as to what other parents like the most or the least about the pre-school that you are looking at. This will give you an insight into the working of the pre-school and whether it is suitable for your child or not.