First off, congratulations to the parents who have succesfully enrolled their tods in a preschool of their choice! And best wishes to those who are on the hunt (you know you need all the good wishes, right? 😉
We just finalised a preschool for our son and boy! must say it was quite a task. Being a parent, we empathize with the first-time-preschool-kids-parents' dilemma, their needs and the utmost importance of finding a right place of play and learning. So, in order to make it a bit easier for you, we are listing down our top 10 factors that can help you in chooing the right preschool for your child.
Why is a preschool so important?
It is often said that 'the most important day of a person's education is the first day of school, not Graduation Day'. Here's why we also believe so.
- The first school sets the tone of the coming days, months, and years right.
- It is the stepping stone to building confidence, self-reliance, and a strong character.
- It is their first place outside their comfort zone.
- It is a place which will let them explore and learn the most, in the early formative years.
- Fastest and maximum brain growth occurs in the early childhood years and feeding the curious brain with right amount of knowledge, stimuli to trigger the brain functions will only enhance their cogntive development.
Top 10 things to keep in mind while finding the right preschool
So what should be the criteria of finding the right preschool (/playschool) for your child? We list down 10 factors which you can consider for your hunt.
- Security & Safety - Note if there is a security guard at the gate. Note who all are allowed to enter the school premises. Note what happens if any technician is required to enter the building. Note who stays in the class when a teacher steps out of the room. Note how are the kids escorted to the washrooms. Note whether the school has CCTV. Keeping a check of all these points will help you in finding the school your choice.
- Hygiene - Fresh food, clean drinking water, clean washrooms, clean ambience, and clean staff. That's all is needed to keep the environment hygienic for your kids. Find out places that you feel needs improvement and discuss with the administrator about them. If strict measures are taken, you will know that they listen to you and are mindful of keeping up with the best of strandards.
- Communication - First impression is often the last impression. If the teachers and staff are not cordial or not greeting the kids with cheer, then something is not right with the preschool. Note if the teachers and staff are also available for existing parents to listen to their greivances. See how they welcome kids in the morning. Visit a normal day of school and observe how teachers and helpers are communicating with the kids at all occasions: in the classroom, while freeplay, while eating, in the washroom, while saying bye. Because at all of these occassions, children's temperament is different and managing them at different occassions needs adaptation and experience.
- Experience - Talk to the head of the school and ask them to have a one on one interaction with the teachers. Note their qualification and experience and how comfortable they are with the kids. How do they handle tantrums?
- Pedagogy - Read about various early childhood learning approaches. Whether you like montessori, reggio emilia, traditional or a mixture of all. See what fits best for you and your child.
- Infrastructure - Does the school have enough open space for free play? Are the stairs, corridors, classrooms, furniture child proofed? Are the clasrooms spacious enough? Do they have enough green space? Are the washrooms accessible by toddlers? Are the classrooms on ground floor or higher? Who assists them while climbing stairs? Are there any accident prone areas? All of these things will help you decide the school of your choice.
- Distance - How close is your school from your home, or your place of work? Can you reach there in a few minutes when need be?
- Location - Other than the distance, we also feel noting down these things might help you in a better judgement. Find out if there there are any potholes outside the school. Are the outside roads clean and smooth? Is it near a heavy traffic prone area? Is the neighbourhood community clean and safe? Is the school safe in terms of being away from harmful radiations, fumes or chemicals?
- Parents' view - Lastly, try to connect with the existing parents and gather insights from their experiences, both good and bad.
- Transparency - We strongly feel a preschool that is not transparent with it functions and curriculum should be striked out from your list. Sending to a school which you don't trust is a straight NO! Do not take chances or give them time to build your trust. If you sense they are hiding their operations, step out and don't look back. Sending your kid to an institution for the first time of their lives is in itself a challenge and leaving them to a place that is not trasparent will only increase your chances of discomfort and anxiety.
Every school will have its scope of improvement and can be suitable for one child but not for the other. We suggest to find the school that best fits your child's needs. Every child is different but equally precious. Prepare all questions beforehand to ask the preschool administrators and think through post your first visit. Also make sure to take your kid along with when you visit the school. Their first impression about the school and your thorough research will set the right tone for their learning in the following years.
We wish you the best. If you have any questions or would like to know more, please write to us in the comment section below.