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  • Writer's picturePaula Robertson

Choosing the right pre-school for your child

Practical tips for selecting the right pre-school for your little one



Selecting the right preschool or kindergarten for your child is a significant decision that can set the foundation for their educational journey. With numerous options available, it's crucial to make an informed choice that aligns with your child's needs, learning style, and your family values. This guide provides valuable insights and practical tips to help parents navigate the process of choosing the perfect early childhood education environment.


Research and Plan Ahead: Start your search early to have ample time for research and visits. Look for preschools or kindergartens that are conveniently located and fit your schedule. Ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations, and explore online resources and social media groups to gather information about local options.


Define Your Priorities: Identify what matters most to you and your child. Consider factors such as teaching philosophy (Montessori, play-based, etc.), curriculum, class size, teacher qualifications, safety measures, and extracurricular activities. Prioritize these elements based on your child's personality and your family's values.


Visit and Observe: Schedule visits to the shortlisted preschools. Observe the classrooms, play areas, and facilities. Pay attention to the overall environment: Is it inviting, safe, and well-maintained? Do the children seem happy and confident? Notice how the teachers interact with the children and whether the atmosphere is nurturing and supportive.


Qualified and Caring Teachers: Experienced and well-trained educators play a pivotal role in your child's early development. Inquire about the teachers' qualifications, certifications, and ongoing professional development. Ask how the teachers manage behavior, promote social skills, and handle conflicts. Ensure there's an appropriate teacher: child ratio. Children receive more individual attention and nurturing when they are in smaller groups and when each caregiver is responsible for fewer children. Do the child-staff ratios and the size of groups of children fall within recognized standards? For example, according to current American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) guidelines, in a room with 4 children aged 13 to 35 months, there should be 1 trained caregiver. In a room with 5 to 8 children aged 13 to 35 months, there should be 2 trained caregivers, and there should be no more than 8 children aged 13 to 35 months per room.


Curriculum and Approach: Explore the curriculum and teaching approach of each preschool. Determine if it aligns with your child's learning style. For instance, if your child thrives in a hands-on learning environment, a play-based or Montessori curriculum might be more suitable.


Social and Emotional Development: A good preschool should focus not only on academic skills but also on social and emotional growth. Inquire about how the school supports children in developing empathy, communication skills, and conflict resolution abilities.


Parental Involvement: Check if the preschool encourages parental involvement. Open communication between teachers and parents can provide a holistic view of your child's progress. Parent-teacher conferences, newsletters, and school events foster a strong partnership between home and the pre-school.


Health and Safety Measures: Your child's health and safety are paramount. Ask about the school's hygiene practices, illness policies, and emergency procedures. Ensure that the premises are childproofed, well equipped with first aid supplies and that all teachers are up-to-date in their first aid training..


Transition and Adaptation: A successful transition to preschool requires a supportive approach. Find out how the school helps new students adapt, whether it's through orientation sessions, gradual entry programs, or buddy systems.


References and Reviews: Reach out to current or former parents to gain insights into their experiences with the preschool. Online reviews and testimonials can also provide valuable feedback about the school's strengths and areas for improvement.


Trust your instincts. After visiting a preschool, consider how you feel about the environment, the staff, and the overall atmosphere. Your intuition as a parent often plays a significant role in making the right decision.


Choosing the right preschool or kindergarten for your child is a significant step in their educational journey. By researching, visiting, and considering factors such as curriculum, teachers, safety, and parental involvement, you can make an informed decision that provides a strong foundation for your child's growth and learning. Remember that each child is unique, so prioritize finding an environment that resonates with your child's individual needs and encourages their love for learning.


Be well,

Paula




Dr Paula Robertson is a busy mom and a paediatrician with over twenty years' experience working with young people and their families. She is also a certified children's mindfulness teacher and Positive Discipline Parenting coach. You can find out more at www.paulathedoctormom.com.

Our AI wellness assistant has contributed to the writing of this article.


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