Identifying a Preschool for Your Child

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Identifying a good pre-school......

When your child is ready for a pre- school, as a parent, you will want to assess how well a preschool program will satisfy your needs and preferences.

First decide what you want, are you looking for a preschool near your workplace, or would one closer to home be more convenient?Look for a preschool program with structure and a good philosophy. Get a schedule of daily activities and ensure they are varied and help to support your child’s development. The program should be planned in advance with plenty of time for indoor and outdoor play; quiet time; group and individual activities; snacks; and free time for children to be involved in creative and imaginative play.

Television and videos should have a small part in the activities. If there is programming that involves television and videos they should be age appropriate and educationally sound supporting programming outcomes.

Look for a preschool program that is well equipped with a wide variety of toys and equipment to encourage children’s development, stimulating creativity and encourages imaginative play.

Does the center take field trips? If so, what are transportation arrangements? Are field trips an appropriate part of programming for your child’s age group?

Does the program continually introduce new learning materials to keep children interested?

Besides these the group size and the teacher child ratio is very important.

As a parent it is essential to ascertain if the school is equipped to handle medical emergencies, It will be a good idea to check whether the program has policies and practices to help keep children safe from preventable illness and injury.

What learning milestones and goals does the school have for the kids do they match your needs? What is their method of teaching, does it agree with what you want and desire from the school to impart for example, Story reading, free play, role play, circle time, art and craft, music, social skills, verbal skills.

What is the experience of the director, and how long have they been with the program? The education and values of the director are often reflective in staff. If the director values education and learning so will the staff members.

If the program has some specific philosophy such as Montessori, Waldorf or Reggio Emilio ensures that there are qualifications supporting this specific training.

Clean and safe environments:

A good preschool program has a clean facility. Everything about the facility needs to be clean: walls, floors, bathrooms, toys and equipment; food preparation areas if the children are given food at school, is appropriate attention given to details regarding allergies and do’s and don’ts that a parent might like to maintain, example is the parent okay with certain food, sweets that the child might be eating in school.

Observe staff with children to ensure they are encouraging healthy habits such as: hand washing; covering mouths when coughing; using tissues for running noses and more hand washing.

If the classes are well equipped to handle the different weather conditions, airy and bright, with furniture that is age appropriate.

Is the preschool program a secure place? Can people walk in from the street and have direct contact with children? What is their policy regarding releasing children once the school is over, especially if it is someone other than a parent.

You can ask the following questions about the preschool:

  • Does the program have a clear written statement of its goals and philosophy?
  • Ask about the curriculum, which should include a variety of activities appropriate for the children’s ages and needs
  • Do the goals address all areas of a child’s development, including his or her social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development?
  • Does the preschool offer a balance of individual, small-group, and large-group activities; and spontaneous play and teacher-guided activities?
  • Is there a balance between rest and quiet periods and vigorous outdoor activities?
  • Do the preschool’s activities encourage self-expression; help children to develop various motor skills; and regularly expose the children to literature, the language arts, music, science, and nature?
  • Does the staff encourage and respond to children’s natural interests in reading, writing, and counting?
  • Watch to see that children interact with other children and adults, so they can build healthy relationships.
  • Preschool and child care programs should build relationships with families:Program staff should work with families to meet their child’s needs. Ask how information and concerns are communicated between staff and families
  • Does the preschool provide snacks and meals that are sufficiently nutritious? Or is emphasis paid to healthy snacking if brought from home.
  • Does the staff pay attention to, and follow up on, the children’s interests in the world around them?
  • Does the director have experience as a teacher?
  • Are the teachers trained in early childhood education?
  • Does the staff welcome parents as visitors and participants, communicate regularly with them, and respect their preferences and ideas?
  • In their work with children, do the teachers express warmth, interest, and respect for each child?
  • Are the teachers engaged with the children most of the time?

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