By Priti Salian
You’ve purchased the admission forms and started to prepare your child for the entrance tests, but have you short-listed the preschools where you would actually want your child to study? You need to prioritize your options so that you can find the best preschool for your child. Here are some of the most important points to remember:
Preschool Learning Programs
Each child is unique and has a different way of learning; in fact, seven different learning intelligences have already been identified. In her preschool, your child should be exposed to all avenues of learning – be it musical, visual, kinesthetic, linguistic, logical, interpersonal or intrapersonal.
She needs to discover her own learning style and learning intelligence, and to find her niche in a diverse group. A good preschool should also focus on all areas of child development, including physical, emotional and social. You should ideally look for a preschool that concentrates on teaching lessons through different activities.
Qualified Preschool Teachers
Little children need kind, understanding teachers. A teacher is one person who impacts your little one’s childhood in a major way. Ideally, a preschool teacher should be patient and sensitive to a toddler’s needs, and open to all sorts of kiddie talk.
She should not snub a child when he comes up with a question and not belittle him when he underperforms. A degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field (with some relevant experience) is desirable (though not essential) in preschool teachers.
To know whether the preschool of your choice has good teachers, you can request the head of the school to let you take a round of the school and attend a class for a while. There’s a lot that you can learn about a school this way.
Your child deserves better than obnoxious ayahs who tell him he’s a ‘bad boy’ if he soils his pants and are generally rude to him. When you visit a preschool, don’t forget to interact with all other school staff besides the teachers.
It is naïve to expect young children to always follow instructions. At a preschool, teachers and staff need to handle disciplinary situations sensitively and sensibly, taking care not to hurt the child’s feelings and psyche.
A good preschool should not be stringent about rules. If a child forgets to get a note book or does not want to do his work, he should not be punished every time. The situation can and should be dealt with in gentler ways.
Your little one attends a preschool to play, learn and be assessed, but the assessment has to be different from that of a formal school. It has to be ongoing and based on a teacher’s observation of the child throughout the year.
A teacher who knows of unique learning styles and the pace at which a child learns can give proper feedback on how your child has improved over a period of time. A non-competitive assessment like this, which concentrates on each child individually, is best for children of this age. Besides academics, the assessment should also record changes in your child based on emotional, physical and social skills.
A clean, bright and spacious environment with adequate play material, swings and attractive walls will hook your child to his preschool. Therefore, choose one with a large play area and large, well-lit rooms. You should also look out for hygienic washrooms which are sized for your little one.
A good preschool would have a cleaner to wash the toilet clean after every visit. The furniture in the classrooms should have smooth edges so that even if your child jumps around in class, he doesn’t get hurt.
Adequate age-appropriate toys are a must in every preschool, but they should be unbroken and devoid of sharp edges. All play equipment should also be placed within easy reach of children. Finally, a good playschool is also incomplete without a well-equipped library.
Safety is paramount when it comes to your child. Look for a preschool which satisfies you with its security measures. Check whether the security at the gate is tight and tracks the entry and exit of people into the school premises.
Also assess the send-off of the children when school is over – find out whether each child is handed over to the parent or authorized person by a preschool teacher or staff member. In the classrooms and the school building, look for the availability of fire extinguishers.
A good preschool will ensure that there are enough teachers to look after your child every minute of the day, whether he is in the classroom or out playing. The staff, including the ayahs, will do their best to see that your child doesn’t get hurt.
Just as you would do anything to have your office next door, your child is also happier with her preschool in close proximity. Even though most preschoolers enjoy their ride to school and back since it gives them time with their friends, the journey tires them out. A tired child is a cranky child, don’t you agree? Also, in case of an emergency, it is always useful to have your child’s school within access.
It is best to discuss any questions you have with the head of the school and preschool teachers. Ask very specific questions, because everyone’s expectations from a school are different. They should have an answer to most of them. Another good source of information, when you start to research a preschool, are parents whose children already attend the preschool. Follow these tips and you’ll be closer to finding the best preschool for your child.
Copyright © Priti Salian
Priti Salian is a full-time writer and mother to her eight-year old daughter. She has written articles on a host of topics for various publications like Complete Wellbeing, Child, Mother and Baby and Discover India. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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