Text by Bhumika Vikam
As parents of toddlers, you have just somehow got handy with the quirks of parenting and infancy and there enters the word ‘Preschool’ which is enough to get you on your toes again and in a way scare you. But parents all around, relax and breathe; because searching for a preschool isn’t as difficult as it seems to be. Here are some tips and ideas which will make your search more relaxed and easy.
When you begin thinking and searching about preschools, the first question popping in your mind will be “Is sending my child to preschool really so important?” and the answer to this is an obvious yes. This is well explained by Abira Shome, an entrepreneur based in Ahmedabad, who says, “Preschool is their first experience in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children. It’s an opportunity to learn to share, follow instructions, and begin the foundation for learning that will occur in elementary school. In addition to this, the child is able to spend time away from parents and build trusting relationships with adults outside the family. High-quality preschool programs nurture warm relationships among children, teachers and parents.”
The first step of searching for a good preschool begins with asking yourself questions. These are simple questions such as:
- Is it important for the preschool to be near my home or how near do I want my child’s preschool to be from home?
- If you are a working mother, it is essential to ask yourself should the preschool be near to my workplace.
- What are the time slots (morning, afternoon or both) that will suit my child and me with regard to the services offered in the preschool?
- Which is the best preschool approach that will suit my child? You can read our article on Comparing different preschool philosophies to help you out.
Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you will be completely clear about simple things such as the proximity of the preschool from your home, the area, the time slot and the approach you prefer. This will make your search much easier because now you simply need to shortlist the preschools which meet your above-answered criteria.
Next comes visiting the shortlisted preschools and inspecting them. What follows is again a second round of questions you must keep in mind during your visit to the preschool-
- Do I feel welcomed here?
- How do the helpers in the preschool seem to be?
- Does the environment provoke exploration?
- Will this be a ‘Home away from home’ for my child?
The most important of these is the helpers and the environment of the school. A good preschool incites exploration and gives a child’s curiosity a platform. This is what you must look for. Preschools are the building blocks of your child’s education; your child will learn everything from his/her first letter to learning socialization. Thus, seeing to it that the school’s atmosphere, curriculum and teachers are good enough to enhance your child’s upcoming future, is what we as parents must look for.
What you can also do is make a checklist or a table once you are back from visiting a preschool. The checklist can be like the sample one provided here:
Another very important aspect is that whenever you go for a preschool visit, it is a must to take your child along with you. After all, it is the child who is going to spend his/her time in the preschool. You must observe your child’s comfort level, excitement and how he/she gets along in a particular preschool environment. Children are very strong at picking up good and bad vibes.
Rhituparna Mitra, a parent of a 4-year-old, says a preschool experience for a child includes- “Activities involving Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, activities around pre-reading, pre-writing, pre-math skills, interpersonal skills, learning to express their own selves, following instructions other than those by parents or primary caregivers.” It is thus well explained how important the above checklist aspects are.
Hygiene and the safety of your child is something which goes unexplained because every parent is concerned about this.
The outdoor space for play is again very important. Many schools tend to have a small play area which creates a barrier in the child’s most exciting part of a preschool. Playtime in preschool is very important because it is the time where they learn, explore, socialise, make friends and distress themselves. The play area must be fun, spacious and a happy place to be.
With the number of preschools coming up in every area, it becomes difficult for parents to choose one. What eases this according to Parimita Chakravorty, an author and a blogger, is “Better research and feedback from current clients which is the only way to know a reliable preschool”.
Lastly, a good preschool is not just the one which looks into the academic part of learning, but the one which nurtures the child and believes that every child in a class is actually someone’s world!