Your child’s early years in pre-school marks the beginning of his/her formal learning journey. Although a lot less structured than primary school, it is here that your child is taught to listen to teachers, interact with friends and pick up basic skills such as reading, writing and art. For some children, their foray into pre-school also marks the first time that they are away from their caregivers for the better half of the day, and this could be a huge transition for them too.
So, how do you go about choosing a pre-school that is right for your child?
Here, we have prepared a list of 10 things to look out for when selecting a pre-school for your child:
Note: The importance placed on each factor varies from person to person.
When shortlisting pre-schools, it is advisable to opt for ones that are conveniently located near your home or workplace as this helps to make pick-up and drop-off easier. This also enables you to get to the centre with ease in times of emergency (e.g. when your child is ill). With a chosen pre-school in mind, do take note of factors such as what time your child will need to wake up, whether he/she will need to be on the school bus or if you can drive/walk him/her to school by yourself.
For all the pre-schools that you have shortlisted, do schedule a visit to the centres to check out the learning environment and to meet the principal and staff. Find out about the curriculum, whether it leans more towards academics or structured play-based. Ideally, you should have a set of preferences in terms of the learning style and curriculum which suits your child best as this will help you settle on a pre-school which meets your requirements.
Want to know more about the award-winning MindChamps PreSchool curriculum? Click this sentence to book a visit to your preferred centre now!
3. School values
Values are important as they shape your child’s development during the early years. Thus, it is important to find out the values that are emphasised in the pre-school you are considering.
Good values such as kindness, patience, perseverance, trust, honesty, graciousness and self-control are some good ones that we would want our children to learn from young. Find out from parents whose children are attending the pre-school if the teachers practice these values in their interactions with their students. At the end of the day, you should be looking for pre-school teachers who love the children they are caring for and are willing to work through issues with your child patiently, and not to push them to unattainable standards or view their role as an early childhood educator as “just a job”.
When visiting the pre-school, ask about the strength of their teaching staff and the minimum qualifications required. Does the pre-school consistently train their teachers to keep them updated with the latest teaching techniques to make learning fun for the pre-schoolers?
If possible, do take your child along with you during the visit and observe how the teachers and principal interact with him/her. Do they make an effort to engage with your child? Also take note of the teachers’ interaction with the children during lesson time as this will give you an idea of what goes on during a typical day in pre-school.
5. Teacher-Child Ratio
While this varies among different pre-schools, all centres should meet the minimum requirements set by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), which can be seen as follows:
What should you look out for when it comes to protocols on hygiene and communication with parents set up by your pre-school of choice? More on this on the next page.