Choosing Preschool for Toddler

Once your child is about, she is mostly ready for a regular outside-the-home experience with other kids and adults. Now is the right time to consider enrolling your kid to a preschool. Preschool is a program for children of age between two and five years old. This program is run by experienced teachers with specialised training in early childhood development, and it offers a curriculum with some structured preschool activities. Here's a detailed guide that talks about the key factors you need to know about choosing a preschool for your child. So, read on to understand when to enrol your kid in preschool, how to choose a good one, and what questions to ask when choosing a preschool.

Independence and Social Skills

The goals of preschool are to give a child a sense of independence away from home, to teach her to negotiate relationships with other children, and to encourage her to interact with adults outside the family. Although social skills are the main focus, a good preschool also offers new things to explore and the chance to learn in a group setting. Parents should see their child growing in social skills, independence, and maturity, and developing an excitement about learning and discovery.

Determine Preschool Readiness

Before considering preschool for your child, it is important to understand if your child is ready. Remember, what may be right for one toddler may not always be appropriate for the other. Once your child reaches the preschool age and is ready, selecting the perfect preschool for your little one can be a daunting process. Read on to know if your toddler is ready for nursery school. But worry not; most of it happens quickly if you know what you want and what is ideal for your child. Generally, preschools meant for children of the age three- to four-years-old sometimes also accept two-years-old.

How to Choose a Good Preschool

Good preschools allow a child a lot of freedom to explore different activities; they encourage a sense of excitement with discovery and offer a child-centred experience. Those that push "academic skills" and are largely teacher-directed only dampen motivation for learning. These schools aren't very successful since ready for formal training in reading and writing at this stage. Good-quality preschool enhances development, self-confidence, and self-regulation. Focus your preschool selection on a school that has these attributes and where you and your child are comfortable.

Gather Some Intel

You might need several visits to various preschools before you can be sure of the right placement for your child and for you. See if you are comfortable with the philosophy, the approach, the policies, and the personnel, particularly the director of the school. You should also gather some specifics. It would be good to get references, but not just from happy parents: get in touch with those who have left the program to find out why.

Take the following into consideration as you check out different preschools:

  • Small class size:

Two- and three-year-olds should be in groups of fewer than eight children. Four-year-olds can be in larger groups if there is an aide to assist the teacher. A teacher/student ratio of 1:7 is best at these young ages.

  • Special training:

Teachers should have specialised training in early childhood development, and the principal should have a bachelor's or master's degree in this area.

  • Stability:

Good preschools retain teachers, so ask about turnover. Turnover of more than 33 per cent per year usually means something isn't right, in pay or morale or both. If a teacher is replaced every six months, you may want to find out why.

  • Safety:

In a good preschool, the classroom and the play area meet all applicable health and safety guidelines. Watch the kids while they play inside and outdoors to see if there are any hazards.

  • Structure:

Ideally, the teacher will have a teaching plan, so she is presenting learning and exploring opportunities in some kind of sequence, building on seasonal ideas and offering activities for a range of skill levels. There should be a daily schedule, which you should be able to examine. There also should be school policies for handling emergencies and for evaluating each child's adjustment and progress.

  • Social climate:

Consider how it would feel to be a child at this school. Watch how the teacher helps kids through the tough transition at the start of the day. Observe how discipline is handled. Notice if it follows your own approach, or if it strikes you as too permissive or too severe. See how arguments and fights between kids are handled. These are inevitable and can be learning experiences if the teacher gives the children ways to handle their problems and disagreements. Watch how a sad or withdrawn child is managed. The approach here should be gentle and kind, aimed at keeping the child comfortable but also drawing him into group activities. The noisy and/or involved kids shouldn't be the only ones getting the attention.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Preschool

  • Are parents allowed to drop in and observe at any time? They should be, no question about it.

  • Is the preschool licensed? This is a minimum requirement. Most good preschools will also have certification from a national or state accrediting association.

  • What kind of curriculum is offered by the preschool?

  • What are the educational background and experiences of teachers and staff at the preschool?

  • Is there any behavioural guidance provided by teachers?

  • What are the payment options? Can you donate time to offset some costs? What are the late fees? Can you get a discount by paying in advance?

  • What are the hours? Are there extended-day options? If so, what happens during that time and who supervises? What is the extra cost?

  • Are there any active play opportunities for your child to develop her gross and fine motor skills?

  • Does the preschool provide any meals and snacks? If yes, inquire about the food options, if it's healthy and prepared in hygienic conditions.

  • How will your child get to preschool? Will there be a pickup and drop bus or will you have to pick and drop your kid?

  • What happens if you are late for a pickup?

  • What about potty training? When a child has an accident, how is it handled?

  • What is expected of you in the way of volunteer time? Will you be asked to contribute snacks, supplies, or lunches on a regular basis?

Takeaway

Watching your child have experiences in a world separate from your own can be a little tough. And it is normal to inevitably feel some sense of displacement. However, look at the brighter side - if your child is participating and enjoying a preschool experience, it's because of your love, support, and confidence to take the next step. Stay positive - a little separation will be good for you both and enriching for her!