How to choose a preschool
The importance of young children receiving a decent preschool education has received more and more attention in recent years. Research shows that children who receive high quality preschool education go on to have better mathematical and language skills, longer attention spans and better social skills. These children generally perform better in the first few years of school and find the transtion smoother and easier. The benefits or high quality preschool education are evident way beyond the formative years and can even be seen into adulthood. Studies show that 20 to 30 years after they have put down the building blocks they are more likely to graduate high school, attend university, earn higher salaries and own their own homes.
Considering how important it is to send your child to a high quality preschool, how do you go about choosing one? Although the basics can be found in most preschools it is worth doing some research to make sure the school you choose is the right fit for you and your family. Here are some questions to consider when going to visit a prospective preschool for the first time.
Ask what the general working hours of the preschool are and how flexible they are on arrival and pick-up times. What happens if you have an emergency or have to work late? If your child will be going by school bus do the times fit your family’s routine?
The formative years from birth to six are widely known as the most important for brain development. There are many different approaches to early years education and it’s important to find a school which uses the approach closest to your personal point of view. Some schools prefer a more play based approach while others favour an early introduction to academic instruction. If you do some research on educational approaches before your visit you will have a better idea of what questions to ask and what to look for around the school.
Whilst we all know the average childhood is strewn with accidents, many unpreventable, it is still imperative to know what your child’s potential preschool’s policies are when it comes to safety. Is the building up to current safety regulation standards? What does the management do to ensure student safety in all areas? How are accidents recorded and notified? How are child pick-ups managed to ensure children are delivered to the correct person? Trust is the most important issue when it comes to choosing a preschool for your child so you need to feel sure that the teachers and management will do their best to ensure your child’s safety and also inform you of any noteable accidents.
Most preschools are privately run so they all have very different standards and rules. Make sure the school you are considering employs teachers qualified in early childhood education. If foreign languages are important to you are the lessons taught by native speakers? Is the school regulated and inspecte by a governing body?
Just as every family has its own rules, expectations, consequences and disciplinary approach, so does every preschool. Although we would like to think our children are little angels we have to be realistic and accept that testing boundaries is a major part of early childhood. It is important that you find a preschool that matches your own approach to discipline as much as possible to ensure you can present a united front to your child. Young children have a difficult time coping with mixed messages.
Always ask to see example menus to decide if the school’s nutrition policy is one you are comfortable with. Check that seasonal fruits and vegetables are plentiful and that processed food is kept to a minimum. If your child has special dietary requirements, such as allergies, what procedures are in place to ensure good nutrition?
As you walk around the school on your visit have a look at the art hanging on the walls. Do all the crafts and pictures look the same? Is it obvious that the activities could not have been completed by young children by themselves? Is creativity and imagination encouraged? Pablo Picasso famously said that all children are born artists. Unfortunately many children have their imagination and creativity stifled by teachers and programmes that are more concerned with producing a perfect product to send home to parents.
Does your school have an open door policy? Are they welcome at school any time? How do teachers and management communicate with parents about their child’s development? Are parents informed daily on their child’s activities and behaviour? Is it possible to see photos or videos of your child during the day to check how they are doing? Is there a camera system installed to enable you to watch your child whenever you like? Does the school have any social events to encourage positive relationships between management, teachers and parents?
Choosing the right preschool is one of the most important decisions you will make for your child so it is important to get answers to all your questions before entrusting your child into their care. It is a difficult time for all parents but if you keep the above points in mind your journey should be easier.