When choosing a preschool, I know exactly what parents go through. There is so much to consider. What I feel really sad about is that parents end up choosing convenience over quality. We have all read and understand that a child’s brain development is at its peak between the ages of 0-6 years. A baby’s brain is a work in progress. Therefore the institution that you choose at this stage has got to be nothing but the best.
What guided me was my reading of How to Multiply Your Child’s Intelligence, by renowned child psychologist Glenn Doman. In this book, Doman states some amazing facts.
Brain growth drops in a sharp way and there is no significant increase after the age of 2.5 years.
- In this book, Doman says that the first 6 years of life are the genesis of genius. It is easy to make a baby a genius before six years of life. Education begins at six, learning begins at birth. What you will be startled to read is that it is easier to teach a one-year-old any set of facts than it is to teach a seven-year-old.
- The visual & auditory pathways of our babies grow by use. So choose a playground/institution that will foster this.
- Children gain knowledge with their 5 senses that’s why when you give him a toy in hope that it will get his attention, first he will look at it, then he will feel it, then he will taste it, and finally he will smell it. Soon he will try to break it and when he can’t he will throw it. He takes all of 90 seconds to understand the toy completely
This is the reason why I insist that the playschool/nursery is the most important in the whole education cycle. So do not take any shortcuts here. Here is what you need to consider before you choose the perfect preschool.
More often than not we always choose the one that is close to our house or the one that is being run in a neighbourhood garage. No offence to any of those institutions but I would request parents to choose the playschool, and nursery very very carefully.
Forget the IB, ICSE, IGCSE, that come later. Pick a school based on whether it is a play-way method, Montessori, or a combination of both. I started my search for a perfect playschool while I was on maternity leave. I knew it would be an uphill task and being a first-time mommy I was lost.
1. Find out and make a list of pre-schools in your area and the ones you possibly don’t mind travelling to even if they are further away
2. Research about the founder members/principals and their credentials online before you set out to visit them
3. Visit each of them and interact with the teachers/principal. Don’t forget to bring a diary and a pen so you can note down all your feedback about that school once you are back home with your partner. Those pointers will also help you when you are making a decision.
4. Teachers are most important. Ask about their educational background. Are they trained to work with this age group? Is the staff stable, or does it change constantly? How many children are there for each teacher, student-to-teacher ratio?
5. School should be spacious. Is there enough open space for outdoor activities? Is it well-ventilated? Here I would just like parents to consider that having an AC environment around your kids is not always the best option. In a school, especially at this age, your kids will be better off with just a fan as the chances of children catching infection from other kids are lower.
6. Visit the different preschools and please look at the classroom if there are distinct areas for reading, playing and group activities. Observe the children; Do most of the children seem happy and busy in learning something?
7. Understand the settling-in process and the separation process. This is so important that I cannot explain enough as these experiences leave a very long-lasting impression on the child.
8. While visiting the school, understand their teaching patterns and curriculum. To see the kind of aides they would like to use to teach. Aides are very important.
9. Do you find the environment stimulating enough?
10. Hygiene levels within the premises.
11. What is the ideology the school follows? Playway method, Montessori, Waldorf, or a combination of some or all!
12. Which grade school is the preschool affiliated to, if at all? If not affiliated ask about the help the school gives you and your child to reach your desired school of choice later on.
After completing your visits, make a comparison to see what programme will work best for you and your child, and then make a decision.
I would also like to share with all working moms that please finish this process while you are on your maternity leave as you will not be in a position to get out of office so leisurely post that. It is an important decision and you need time.