Ayu turned three two weeks ago and started his pre-school in November 2018 at two years and two months of age. Our main motive behind this decision was to give him an opportunity to socialize with children of his age and to become more independent. In this blog, I am sharing how we chose the pre-school where Ayu goes currently. This decision can be overwhelming for parents. All you need to do is to stay informed and meticulously choose the right pre-school.
Choosing the Right Pre-school
It is a good idea to first cover the basic points to shortlist the pre-schools. For example distance from the home or your work, daycare facilities, conveyance, etc. Not all the pre-schools have daycare facilities. And if you think you will need daycare in the future, it would be best to have it in the same school. From this one can make a list of a few schools to gather more information.
Type of pre-school
It is a good idea to first cover the basic points to shortlist the pre-schools. For example distance from the home or your work, daycare facilities, conveyance etc. Not all the pre-schools have daycare facilities. And if you think you will need daycare in future, it would be best to have it in the same school. From this one can make a list of a few schools to gather more information.
When we started looking for schools, we were taken aback to see how so many pre-schools put so much pressure on little kids. They are not children-led but curriculum-led. We were looking for schools which let the children be, and learn from their natural environment. This is exactly what the Waldorf method focusses on. We also like the Montessori approach and so our search was only focussed on these two types of schools.
Finding more information
After pondering upon these points, next would be to try to gather more information about the list of schools finalized. Reach out to other parents with children of the same age group. There are many ways to do that. You can check out the local Facebook or Whatsapp communities. You can also reach out to your friends, and try to know more about the schools. Word of mouth should be given more importance over the ratings of the school found on the internet.
Visiting the schools
This is an important part before deciding about the school because every minute spent inside the school facility will help your decision easier. Make sure you take your child with you so that he can also familiarise with the facility and you can see how he likes it. Ask as many questions as you can. Here are a few points to think and question :
Environment: The environment of the school should be welcoming. Let your child move around and see if he feels interested. When we took Ayu to the school he goes to now, he loved playing with the wooden dolls. That was also the first time he didn’t want to go home and eaten to stay there and play.
Hygiene: Very very important! Look around how the place looks. one of the schools we visited had damp walls and the ventilation was very poor. I felt we couldn’t breathe inside. There was food lying in the corner of the class waiting for someone to clean it. If the meals are made in the school premises, check the hygiene level of the kitchen. You might also want to check the washrooms.
The daily routine : It would be good to know the daily routine of the children at the school.
Safety : One needs to check how the school takes care of the pickup and drop facility. At the same time, one needs to see if the school premises are safe and child proofed. These days most of schools have webcams and you can access what the child is doing at all times. Those are very helpful.
Teachers and other staff : Try to know the experience of the teachers and helping staff. stay away from schools where the staff keeps changing frequently.
Interaction and discipline: When you go to a school during its working hours, try to notice how the adults there interact with the children and the way they keep the discipline intact.
Classroom size : Check how they categorize children to sit in a class, and what age groups sit together.
Here is a checklist you would like to see if you want to be more specific about the questions you wish to ask the schools. For us, word of mouth helped a lot. A lot of our friends had amazing reviews for the school we chose for Ayu. We loved the methodology of the school and loved how they interact with little children.
As far as the right age to send a child to pre-school is concerned, it is a personal choice. Also depends from child to child. Some children settle at school at a young age and some take a lot of time to adjust to the new environment. If circumstances were in our favour, we could have sent Ayu to school at 2.5 years of age and not before that. Though this boy took a lot of time to settle at school, the development that we are seeing in him makes us realize that it was all worth it.