For some parents today, choosing a preschool isn’t easy peasy. Now that there are plenty of options available, and with the declining quality of education offered at public schools, parents face the problem of picking the best school for their young kids.
Preschoolers are in the most critical age of their lives where they begin to assimilate into the real world – have a taste of attending school or getting formal education, making long-standing friendships, and interacting with different people in the community.
For the most part, going to a preschool means developing a routine (waking up early, making trips to and from school, learning independence, doing schoolwork before play, etc.) that would greatly influence or shape a young person’s personality.
To ease the burden, we offer parents with 10 deciding factors that will help them pick the right preschool for their young children.
First off, young kids cannot withstand long trips. As a parent, this should not be a shocking discovery, particularly when you’re regularly taking your kids on a travel. Just take note of the amount of preparation and level of stress you undergo with each trip. The basic consideration for a preschool is one that’s closely located to your house so you can minimize travel-related stress on your preschooler and on anyone who sends and fetches them to and from school. Also, note that the farther the school, the longer the prep time needed (wake up earlier than usual, etc.).
It’s great if a certain preschool near your location is highly recommended by your friends and elders. Perhaps it’s because they send their own kids to the same school and are more aware of the quality of the education provided there. Perhaps they know of alumni or existing students in that school that show exemplary achievements and behaviors.
- Hygiene & Upkeep
As a parent, we always want to give the best to our children. Although we allow them to engage in activities that get them dirty and soiled, we do want them to maintain proper hygiene. A school with the best upkeep and sanitation is a great choice because a clean environment lowers health risks for the kids. Remember that young students usually contract contagious illnesses like cough and cold, lice infection, and sore eyes from their classmates and school environment. That’s normal, but the dirtier the school environment, the sicklier the children can get.
- Staff Turnover
Although preschool education only lasts to about 4 hours max in a day, this means the kids are exposed and are in constant interaction with their teachers for this amount of time. We know how easy it is for kids to emulate the adults. And high staff turnover could mean one thing: discontent among the school staff. If the staff and faculty are unhappy, they might be less engaged and passionate with teaching and interacting with the children, making them less capable of nurturing their development. A happy school environment for both the staff and students is important.
Try to find out the communication style adopted in the school. How do the staff interact with one another? With the parents? With the students? What are the languages officially spoken in the school? Do you prefer that students use English (or any other language) for the most part of their school life? How do older students (if there are any) interact with one another? Do they show respect, politeness and humility, or do they normally joke around, become rowdy and mock others? Younger students also emulate older students.
- Teacher-Student Ratio
It can be a concern for many parents that there are so many students in a classroom with only one teacher. After all, taking care of one child is already a handful how much more taking care of 20 or 40 different kids all in one go! The lower the student-teacher ratio, the less likely that the teacher can pay much attention to the student’s needs. A ratio of 1 teacher (with 1 assistant) for every 15 students is preferred and adhered to by many private preschools.
- Staff Qualification
The educational background and work experiences of the teachers are paramount to identifying their qualification as second parents to the young children under their care. Beyond their academic achievements, the best preschool teachers are those who are also bound by impressive ethical and moral convictions with which you as a parent approve. If getting to know each of the faculty staff at this level is difficult, learn about the school’s vision and mission, and ask the school director or principal regarding the quality of the school staff.
- Discipline Policy
Bullying in schools is now an increasing concern for parents. Children as young as preschool age can become victims to bullying without proper guidance and discipline. Again, ask the school director regarding their discipline policy and their stand on bullying. Do they admit dropouts and fresh students from other schools without proper screening? Some students are blacklisted from their former schools because of bad behavior. It can be agitating to learn that misbehaving dropouts are now in your child’s school.
Different preschools have different curriculum and structure. Some are more on the total development of the student while others are focused on academics. Learn about the daily structure and set of activities that the school is offering to students. That will give you a hint on what type of curriculum or structure the school has.
Of course, it should also be within the budget of the family as schools have varying tuition fees and other charges. Check the payment schemes whether you can pay a minimum enrollment fee and pay monthly for the balance, or you must pay a large amount upon enrollment. Ask if the school collects surprise fees throughout the semester or school year or if the total enrollment sum already covers everything. Sometimes, enrollment fees are relatively cheaper, but then you may have to pay for other school activities like field trips, Christmas parties, etc. which could escalate the entire preschool spending to enormous amounts.
More importantly, make sure that you choose the school that you personally think is the best for your child and for your family. Whenever you can, visit the school on a regular school day, and try to get the “feel” of attending classes there. Let your parental instincts take charge.
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