As your child clocks 2 or 3 years old, one of the very important decision to make centers around choosing a preschool for him/her. There are so many preschools with so little information on them and this makes the whole process a daunting task. And because we know that early years are critical in setting up your child to be successful, selecting a quality preschool is very crucial.
In selecting the best school for your child, it is more important to find the “best fit” NOT the perfect school. Best fit means an environment that will help your child thrive and be their best.
Here are a few important tips to consider when looking for the best preschool for your child:
- Ask for referrals: Its best to shortlist schools based on referrals from close friends, family and pediatrician.
- First impression: Don’t take anyone’s word for it, visit the school to get a feel of the preschool. What are your first impression of the school in terms of safety, cleanliness, teachers, environment, class size, etc.? What you are looking for is a clean safe and child friendly environment.
- Safety: When it comes to preschoolers – Safety is key. What are their policies around the safety of your child from the moment you drop off till pick up? Did they consider safety when planning layout, furniture, resources, play area, common area and even interactions among children, etc.?
- Environment: Is the environment child friendly? Does it have an outdoor play area? This is important because play is very critical for preschoolers. Is the environment fun, joyful, active and nurturing? They must not miss a yes to these questions.
- Teachers: This is one of the most critical elements of the school. What are their teacher’s qualifications? What were your first impressions of the staff? Do they obviously care about the children? Do they appear caring and nurturing in their dealings? Does it appear that they enjoy what they are doing? What is the teacher to child ratio? Ideal is between 7 to 10 children per teacher.
- Curriculum: What is their curriculum like? Look for rich content, hands-on-learning and developmentally appropriate play. Is outdoor play a key component of their curriculum? Is there music, arts, craft, science experiments, sensory activities, handwriting, etc.?
- Class schedule: It would be good to have an idea of what the daily schedule for your preschooler is like? How long is the schoolwork? Is there enough play time? Remember children learn best through play so it must contain lots of play both indoor and outdoor play to help with fine and gross motor skill. Also, there must be enough nap time
- Communication: What is their process for communication between the school and parents. Most importantly, how do they pass on individual communication about your child? Because it is important you know how your child is doing based on expected developmental milestones.
- Discipline: How does the school handle discipline? How do they encourage positive behavior? What is their overarching philosophy on discipline? Remember, education is not about learning Math, Reading and Writing but the total child.
After your visit, the final decision will depend on budget, location and what is the best environment that would allow your child to thrive. Trust your instincts.
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