“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
The prospect of selecting the perfect pre-school for your child can seem quite unnerving. A pre-school is not just their first introduction to the outside world but also their first platform of learning. Parents are tasked with picking an institution that will go on to lay the foundations for their precious child’s future. This overwhelming task is not made easier by the sheer number of options available. Consorting to internet searches only ends up opening a pandora’s box of schools competing for your attention, making things even worse. Every parent must know what makes a pre-school the perfect choice for their child.
The key is in understanding that the decisions you take for your child will be with their best interest at heart. Trust your parental instincts. That said, it is important to go in prepared. Have an idea of what you are looking for before you start searching. The pre-school you end up selecting may not meet all your criteria, but it is better that, as a parent, you set the standards for your child. Talk to other parents, friends, and family to check off some general requirements like location, accessibility, proximity, timings, and reputation. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it is crucial that you visit them and select the perfect one to invest in for your toddler’s well-being. Here are some things to consider during your visit;
Interacting with the pre-school teachers and staff should be enough to discern whether they actually care about the children. Faculty members who like their job, and are committed, caring and dedicated, make all the difference when it comes to your child. But do not overlook their actual qualifications and experience in the field. The pre-school director should be able to give you adequate and satisfactory information about the professional training that the teachers have received.
Infrastructure and Environment
Look for pre-schools that have a welcoming environment. The atmosphere has to be a good fit for your child and conducive for his/her growth. Ask about all the facilities they offer and evaluate their utility. Spacious classrooms, child-sized furniture, a dedicated playroom and playground, and hygienic restrooms are must-haves. Since learning through playing is a huge part of pre-school, it is important that the school has enough space for kids to do just that – run around, have fun and even take their naps.
While most pre-schools follow basic safety regulations, it is best to look for ones that have your child’s safety at the top of their priority list. For instance, in-house medical staff and real-time video surveillance are good indicators that the children are in good hands. Raise questions about the measures taken by the pre-school to ensure that the kids do not wander off outside the premises, even by mistake. Parents need to inquire about the safety certifications of the institution itself along with the training certificates of all of the teachers when it comes to emergency measures such as CPR and fire safety drills.
The curriculum is essentially the syllabus which underpins the learning principles at the heart of every pre-school. Understand the approaches and methodologies the pre-school adopts, since it varies from one to another. Many schools have adopted a hybrid or tailor-made curriculum that draws on elements of well-known systems like the Montessori, the Reggio-Emilia or the Waldorf approach. Whatever is in place at the schools you look at, be sure to find out how it will suit the needs of your child.
Interactions between the child, teacher, and parent should be completely open and transparent. Make sure that you can establish a healthy tête-à-tête with the staff. Can the faculty see and think from a 3-year old’s point-of-view? How do they manage the kids’ behavior and discipline? Are the parents kept informed on the well-being and progress of their children? These are all important questions to raise because, at the end of the day, pre-schools do not rid parents of responsibilities. Quite contrarily, it should be a joint effort by faculty and parents to ensure that children have the absolute best experience.