22 May

How to choose the right preschool? 12 Things to look for when selecting a preschool

how to choose the right preschool for your child

The preschool concept – Introduction:

Half a century back, life was simple. The father would go out for work whereas the mother would take care of the kids. When the women started stepping out of the home to take up a career, the concept of preschools gained importance became the best option for the child’s well-being.

This is how the idea of preschool rooted in the minds of people. Present millennials opt for preschools for their child whether they are working or homemakers. They want their child to be well prepared before he/she joins the regular school. Hence the question raising how to choose a preschool?

What the child can learn in a preschool?

Good grounding and foundational skills are laid in early childhood which has an impact on future schooling and career of the child when he/ she is an adult. Also, the child learns to be social, acquires interpersonal skills and are introduced to foundational skills some of which are –

1. Fine motor skills to have a good pencil grip that helps in good handwriting.
2. Auditory and visual perception of reading and comprehension.
3. Listening skills.
4. Gross motor skills that help in maintaining posture, playing sports, overcome tiredness, concentration and sitting upright at the desk.
5. Behaviour skills such as giving a response, following instructions and rules, cooperation and socialisation.

How to choose the right preschool for your child?

choosing the right preschool for your child
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a. Things to consider before asking how to choose a preschool :

The parents need to do some research before they take the decision on joining their kid into a particular preschool. Other than the philosophy and curriculum, there are many factors that the parent should consider when he/she is in search of the right preschool for his/her child. A good preschool lays the foundation for success in academics and overall development of the child.

b. Things to consider when choosing a preschool:

1. Location of the school:

When a child starts his/her preschool, it is always comforting for the child if the preschool is not far away from home and the better if the school is in the same locality. This will cut down the hassles of long commute which can be tiring for the child.

Also since the school is near to home, we as parents can go walking to pick and drop our children and this gives time to connect with the child and know what’s new happening in his/her life. Many of the child’s friends may be in the same school which will be a plus point.

2. Ask for referrals:

As a parent, if you are interested in a particular playschool, speaking to the parents whose children are already enrolled there will give you a fairly good idea about the playschool. You will get the first person account about the school and what are the plus and minus points of the school.

3. Preschool tour checklist:

The parents have to tour the preschool with a checklist during working hours to have the first-hand information. As the parent walks in through the door, he/she should feel the classroom as clean, bright and inviting.

The teacher-student ratio, the classroom setup, the teacher interaction, play equipment, safety measures, ayah staff, teaching charts and models are some of the observations that can catch the eye in the first visit. When the first impression is positive, the parents can check on further details related to the school.

4. Paying attention to accreditation programs:

Accreditation is a voluntary process which the school undergoes so that it meets certain academic, social and quality standards. In India, government norms are there which the preschools are expected to follow. But there is not much supervision as such. Most of the preschools are run privately or as a franchise.

5. Preschool teacher’s qualifications:

To become a preschool teacher, the minimum qualification is graduation. After graduation, the aspiring teacher needs to do teacher training. There are many options for teacher training courses. Basic Training Certificate (BTC), Diploma in Education (D.Ed), Nursery Teacher Training(NTT), Teacher Training Certificate (TTC) etc are the courses that will help the aspiring teachers to acquire the skill set to handle and teach the preschool kids.

Childcare and education, Pre-primary teacher training education, Early childhood education, Montessori education etc are also the courses that can be done after 10+2 to become a pre-school teacher.

6. School curriculum:

Check the school on curriculum and activities. Letter recognition, pre-writing and letter tracing, the oral pronunciation of letters, recognition of sounds, shapes, numbers, activities such as counting, cutting, drawing, colouring, clay modelling, recitation, fine motor skills, life skills, love of nature and play are some of the important activities of the playschool.

7. The atmosphere of the school:

The atmosphere of the school should be pleasant and inviting for the child as well as the parent. As parents instead of how to choose a preschool, we need to ask a few questions ourselves such as- Are the children active and enjoying? Are the teachers friendly, caring and cooperative? Is the setting safe and clean? Do the ayahs assist the kids when they use the toilets?

8. Timings, safety measures, and medical care at the school:

The timings and duration of the preschool should be suitable for the child and convenient for the parents. As parents, we should know the safety measures taken to prevent accidents and the medical facilities available in the preschool if our child is hurt or sick.

9. Behaviour issues:

When a child misbehaves or plays truant, what is the policy of the school? How does the teacher handle the challenging behaviour of the child? Whether the children are taught to communicate their needs and wants in an appropriate way.

How does the teacher restrain the child who is violent and disruptive? Whether the reasons behind the behaviour is investigated. Do the teachers focus on help rather than punishment? These are the questions to which the answers should be sought by the parents.

10. Teacher-child ratio:

This should be looked into before the child is admitted into the preschool because this makes a big difference. Smaller the class, better the individual attention on the child from the teacher. Some preschools have a large number of students but then the teacher is supported by an assistant teacher or helper.

11. Distance and transport facility:

Most parents prefer preschools near to the home from where they can drop and pick their child. If the preschool is a little away, then the parent has to check on the transport facility. Whether the van or bus driver has a proper driving licence and does an ayah escort the children has to be checked out.

12. Preschool fee:

Before how to choose a preschool? focus on the fee structure should be examined and see whether it fits the budget. The admission fee, tuition fees, transport fee, field trips, annual day expenses etc. are to be kept in mind by the parents. Whether the tuition fees should be paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually?

When the parent gets transfer mid-year, is there a provision to refund the admission fee partly or is there a transfer policy to its branch preschool in the other city or town? These are the things/questions to ask when selecting a preschool.

Closing thoughts:

The parents need to have a clear picture of what they are looking for when they go hunting for a preschool for their child. Admission to the right preschool is a stepping stone for the child from where he/she will progress into academics and all-round development.

A preschool that fulfils the needs and aspirations of the child and the parent would be the best choice.

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Radhika is a freelance poet, writer and teacher settled at Secunderabad. She is also a life skills trainer for children. Her articles and poems have been published in Woman's Era, Teacher Plus, The Hindu and websites like wow parenting. Her husband Rayudu and son Prashanth support and inspire her in her endeavours.