Babies grow up so fast; just when you get used to them being stuck to you all day, it’s time for you to get started on choosing a preschool! In many cases, separation anxiety is more of the parent’s problem than the child’s!
But you can ease this anxiety to a great level by finding a playschool that satisfies you and meets all your expectations. Just knowing that your precious little one is safe and happy is what most parents want!
Since it’s about time to start searching, we have compiled for you a list of 10 things to consider before choosing a preschool. This general set of guidelines should give you a starting point to narrow down your choices.
10 Things to consider before choosing a preschool in India
First things first; with all the horror stories one hears of these days, it is essential to ensure that your child’s potential preschool has a strict security system in place. Check
- Is there a wall all around the campus? Is it so big that the child might get lost?
- Do they have a security guard who’s experienced and capable?
- Is anyone free to enter the campus as they wish? How do they handle the comings and goings of delivery boys, trash collectors etc.?
- What are the credentials of the ancillary staff?
- Are there specific guidelines for pickup and drop off?
Safety is also a high priority point to consider when choosing a preschool for your child.
- Ask if the building has a fire exit and if there are fire extinguishers at hand.
- Are the toys there free from lead paint and choking hazards?
- What about playground equipment; is it age appropriate and well maintained?
- Check if there is a possibility for children to wander off into the kitchen or bathrooms by themselves.
- Every playschool, no matter how small, should have a well stocked first aid kit.
Young children are more prone to infections than older ones and entering an environment completely different from the safe and protected one at home exposes them to a host of germs. While it can’t be avoided completely and is even recommended to build their natural immunity, the preschool should follow basic cleanliness. A look at the bathrooms and kitchen will give a good idea of the school’s standards.
- How often do they clean the premises?
- Where does the trash go?
- How are potty accidents handled?
4. Teaching Philosophy
There are several teaching philosophies to consider, like Montessori for instance. It’s a good idea to read up on these before checking out the school. Find one that is in line with your parenting vision and your child’s nature.
- Does the curriculum involve all kinds of activities to develop a child’s fine and gross motor skills?
- Do you want one with more free style play or a more structured system?
A child’s brain develops the most during the early years, so this is an important point to consider when choosing a preschool for your little one.
5. Attitude of Staff
Your child is going to be away from you for the first time, the replacement of his primary caretaker has to be satisfactory.
- How does the staff deal with the initial phasing-in stage?
- What kind of discipline do they follow?
- Do they appear generally confident and pleasant?
- These questions apply to both the teaching as well as care taking staff.
- It doesn’t hurt to look at the school director’s attitude as well, since that is going to filter down to the lower levels.
- A surprise visit to the school will let you see how the staff behaves, if they handle problems calmly with a smile or if they are yelling their lungs off!
6. Number of Caretakers
Young children need a good deal of supervision and help for most of their basic needs. A school with a low staff to child ratio will result in overworked and eventually disgruntled staff. This will affect the individual and personalized attention each child gets and the overall quality of teaching care will deteriorate. Ask about how many caretakers are assigned to each class. Are they going to be the same people who run regular jobs like cleaning the school or cooking? The number of caretakers or ‘ayahs’ is likely to be more important than the number of teachers since they are expected to be ready for action in case of any trouble.
7. Sleep, Snacks and Space
Your child is probably used to a pattern of naps and snacks at home.
- How does this gel with the school’s routine?
- Are snacks provided at the school? If yes, what do they give the children and when? This will help you adjust his meals at home if necessary, so that he doesn’t go hungry for too long.
- Are there designated places for these activities?
- This is also a good time to have a look at the area of the place – if the classrooms are too small and congested or if there’s enough space to run around and play.
8. Location and Hours
A young child at school may need to be picked up any time in case of an emergency. The location is thus important to consider when choosing a preschool.
Will it be near your home or near your or your spouse’s workplace?
A playschool that’s far away will also mean getting the child ready earlier in the morning which might translate into less sleep. Too much travel time might also make the child hungry and cranky by the time he gets home. Also, find out the working hours of the school – something that is especially important if both parents work outside the home.
Of course, we can’t leave out the financial aspect of things! Before checking out preschools, have an idea of how much you’re prepared to spend. Some schools take a year’s fees in advance, while others have term wise systems.
Ask about refunds in case you wish to cancel at some point in time, particularly if you have a transferable job. There are additional expenses to factor in, like uniforms, bags and kit along with transportation. You’ll most certainly have to shell out a good amount when your child starts regular school, so you don’t want to blow all your money on the playschool itself!
10. Parent Feedback
The best recommendation to be had is from fellow parents. Talk to parents who are already sending their wards to the school or who’ve done so in the recent past – they’re the most likely to give you the no-frills, down to business view about the school and its various policies. Talk to a number of parents to get an average opinion which will help you make your choice. The internet has made life a lot easier in this regard and you can check reviews or ask your questions on parenting forums or groups for real time advice.
By the time you examine these conditions for every preschool you’re considering, you’re likely to have narrowed your list down to one or two. If you’re still finding it hard to decide, take your child along and see how he appears to adapt to the environment.
Every child is different and they thrive in surroundings that bring out the best in them.
On top of everything, trust your gut; your instincts are there for a reason!
Image sources – Freedigitalphotos.net and Flickr
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Article By Fabida Abdulla
Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum Stay at Home Mom to her boisterous 6 year old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes.