School is in fact the most important stage in a human’s life.
As a parent, you’d want to be sure that you are deciding on the right pre school/school for your child, but how do you make the best choice?
Start your search at least several months before you want your child to start.
Which Preschool/School is best for my child?
These days schooling is more of commercial business and is a way of making money rather than nurturing and educating children.
How do you know for sure which is the right Preschool/School for your child?
To answer all these questions we have come up with a list of things that you should look for when enrolling your child in a preschool/school.
‘Schooling is the first step taken towards being independent’
Top 10 things to look for when joining your child in a school / preschool
Don’t ever say ‘yes’ to the first school you see.
Sending your child to a right preschool/school is the basic requisite for all parents.
Let us see how you can narrow down to the best available option for your child:
1. Choose a school within your vicinity:
Choosing a school that is near your home or workplace is a lifesaver! If the pre school is far away, your baby will lose precious sleep in having to get up early. Also, he may get cranky and hungry on the long way back. Kids are kids, and sometimes, they will need to be picked up immediately – a school that is near you or your spouse’ workplace can be easier on you and your child.
2. Look for schools with a good reputation:
Asking for recommendations from family or friends is a good way to discover nice places for your kid to study in. Knowing that people you trust and their kids have had good experiences in an institution is usually an excellent sign that your kid will get the same.
Here are a few questions you can ask your circle about the school:
- Did their child have a positive experience in the school?
- What do they like most about the school?
- What do they hate the most?
- Is the school transparent in communication with parents?
- How is absence of kids handled?
- What are the extra programs the school offers? Is the library good? The playground good?
- What is the fee structure?
3. Cleanliness and Hygiene:
Young kids are more prone to infections, particularly when entering an environment completely different from their homes. While too much sanitization can actually harm your kid, it is indispensable that you expect the school to follow basic cleanliness to a T.
See the school premises in person to find out if:
- The school facility is well ventilated, well-lit, and clean.
- The washrooms are well maintained and cleaned regularly.
- The seating arrangement is well split up with ample space.
- Are there are any open ditches/ water bodies near the school? (Attracts mosquitoes)
- How does the school handle potty accidents?
The love of school and the joy of learning can only flourish in the right environment. It is up to you to judiciously pick the right campus for your child. Here are some pointers to consider:
- Is the campus too outdated? Has it stopped evolving?
- What are the tools that the school uses for teaching? Are there enough puzzles, toys and reading materials?
- Are the classrooms gadgets and apparatus really used to enhance your child’s learning? Or are they just exhibited to justify an exorbitant fee?
5. Student- teacher ratio:
The walls may be colourful, the campus may be vast, but it is the teachers that really bring the school to life. Caring, passionate and qualified teachers should be an utmost priority. Ask around if:
- The teachers are well qualified?
- Are they over worked or burdened?
- Is the adult to student ratio manageable?
- How do they handle kids? Do you see a lot of teachers yelling their lungs out?
Preschool is an important phase for the cognitive development, emotional maturity, fine and gross motor skill development in kids. Even the most qualified teacher cannot personally guide and teach each kid when she is outnumbered. The 1:8 teacher to student ratio is ideal, but anything more than 1:15 for majority of class hours means that your child wont probably be encouraged to explore and learn or get concepts patiently explained.
There are different approaches that schools undertake when teaching your little tots. The curriculum and the structure of your child’s day at school is built on the approach they follow.
Montessori is a very common preschool teaching method in India. The Montessori method emphasizes that we don’t disturb the individuality and freedom of children, allowing them to follow their own pace to learning something. There are no ranks/ comparison among children.
Schools that follow the Reggio Emilia approach teach children discover themselves through active listening and movement. They encourage children to express themselves through their creativity and emotions, with coordinated activities like painting, observing, free play, drama, art and touching/ feeling.
The Waldorf approach aims to make each child a fully rounded individual. They encourage children to partake in activities with the teacher and to see and learn from direct experience. The concept of circle time, where children sit together and sing / play is widely seen in this approach.
In the HighScope approach, teachers are mainly play partners for the kids. The kids can choose their desired activity, and the teacher guides the kids in the projects, helping them reach their goals.
Many religious institutions offer faith-based playschool programs as well. The level of religious emphasis varies from school to school, ranging from inclusion of religious stories into lessons to aiming to develop the spiritual belief of the child to a deeper level.
Most preschools offer a balanced mix of all these approaches, while some stick purely to the original school of thought. Learn about a few schools to understand their approach and see if the teaching style meshes with your little one’s inquisitiveness.
7. Outdoor Play:
Many parents find the idea of outdoor play in preschools appealing, and rightly so. Science shows us that getting hands dirty a little can help the immunity, health and emotional well being of children. Being around animals, plants and gardens encourages your child to wonder about nature and connect with the natural world. Choose preschools with activities like outdoor play, sand play and gardening over fully indoor teaching systems.
8. Friendly and approachable:
A preschool or nursery is often the very first time your baby spends time away from your loving care. Having to part from you and getting used to a new primary care giver is a major change for little ones. Sending them to a harsh environment where they are forced to shut up and obey while their feelings are suppressed and ignored can cause major stress and anxiety.
To ensure that your child’s nursery or playschool has a warm and comforting environment:
- Surprise visit the nursery to see how the school operates.
- What plan does the school have for kids in the phasing in period who keep screaming for their parents?
- Are children allowed to play and interact with each other?
- What system does the school have to discipline kids who misbehave?
- How harsh are the consequences for not following instructions? (Not finishing the snack / refusing to colour a page?)
- Is there enough encouragement? (high fives/ claps)
- How long has the staff/ teachers been with the school? (Frequently changing staff can make it hard for children to trust and connect with them)
- Is there telling off or yelling when there is a problem?
- Do they take kids seriously when they say they are sick?
- Does the school involve you in activities?
- Does the school notify you about your kid’s overall progress?
Your child’s health and safety are paramount and the school must consider it so.
- All the staff in the school are well trained in handling emergency situations.
- The school has a proper first aid management system for little children.
- The facility is located in a good neighbourhood.
- The school play things, furniture and the architecture are childproof. Look out for low walls, sharp edged furniture at kids’ level and unmanned exit points.
- Nobody except parents/ care takers are allowed into the campus premises.
- Your child must not be sent home with anyone except you/ the assigned caretaker; the school should verify with you via video call/ voice call if there is someone else there to pick up your child.
- If your child has an allergy, is the school understanding and equipped to handle it? What are their plans?
Most pre-schoolers are often accompanied to school by members of their family (parents / grandparents). If you are entrusting your child to be picked up and dropped through other means of transport, there are more precautions you need to take.
- Do not make your kid stand alone by the gate waiting for the van / auto.
- Check the credentials of the person you are appointing to pick your child up.
- Instruct the driver to always check around the hazardous zone of the van before taking off.
- Teach your child basic road discipline, and that they should not push others / play in the van.
- Teach your child not to go with or take candy from strangers.
- Make sure your child knows your number / address.
Young children of preschool age learn best through hands on help. Lots of reading, crafts, dance, play and exploring the natural world are all foundations for a solid education. Our responsibility at this stage doesn’t simply end when our children know academic concepts like alphabets, shapes and colours – it is our responsibility to build their curiosity, teach them empathy, problem solving skills, coordination and fine motor skills.
The love of learning starts young. We hope this post helps you find the right preschool for your kid! Have we missed something important? Let us know in the comments below!