Enrolling in a preschool is an educational stepping stone for your children – that’s why it’s essential to choose it well. The preschool selection process can be daunting and overwhelming for parents, as there are plenty of factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right one. According to some statistics, a preschool greatly impacts your children’s success – more than the later schooling years. It is a place that teaches them valuable things, how to interact, play and develop their young minds. Your children will perform better later on in life with a proper learning base attained in preschool.
A number of factors impact how good a preschool is. The first thing you want to start with is staff qualifications – the educators need to have proper education. Moreover, the class size matters, so you should also pay attention to that. Along with the class size goes the adults vs. children ratio. You should also take the environment as well as the overall atmosphere into consideration. Other factors to consider are the curriculum, the menu, and safety on the premises. You also shouldn’t overlook the location and the proximity to your home – it will make your life easier. Do your research and start googling ‘childcare centre near me’, make a list, and then take a closer look at each institution that you find plausible.
1. Staff qualifications
Globally speaking, some countries value childhood education, while others undervalue it. Why is this important to keep in mind? Well, if a country undervalues childhood education, they set low requirements for such institution startups. And then such institutions pay low salaries, and thus can usually only hire educators without proper education. You definitely want to avoid such institutions. When doing your research on potential preschools, the first factor you should consider is the staff and their qualifications. They need to have a degree or a diploma in early childhood development. Being a preschool teacher requires so much more than just interacting and playing with children. It also encompasses the ability to assess children and provide them with skills they lack. They should observe your children’s progress and keep you up to date.
2. Class size
Another important factor to consider when choosing childcare is class size. Class sizes should be optimal and not overpacked with children. This is the best way to achieve progress. There should be a maximum of 15 to 20 children per class, plus a teacher’s assistant. If there are too many children in a class and only one educator, that educator can’t be physically present and devoted to every child individually. And for the most optimal development, the educator does need to focus and interact with each child individually. In that way, they can learn more about them and provide help in areas that need a slight boost. This is important as not all the children are the same, nor they progress at the same pace.
3. Adults vs children ratio
The ratio of adults per child is the extension of the previously mentioned class size. It is of utmost importance to have one assistant in a typical class size, or even two if the class size is large. The assistant helps educators by assisting children, explaining things, or guiding them. Also, it is good to have an assistant in case when the educator needs to leave the classroom, to go to the toilet, for instance, or to bring in some additional material or equipment. In any case, there should be an adequate number of adults in the childcare center.
What you should also pay attention to is the environment. When you look at it, you should feel it is stimulating for children. The whole preschool should be organized in such a way that there is some kind of learning going on. The furniture should be kid-friendly, in both style and size. There should be no sharp edges – or as few as possible. There should also be other things such as toys, board games, and other equipment including, beanbags, balancing beams, hula hoops, and tires. The walls should be covered in children’s artwork or some motivational posters. Also, the stuff that children make should also be exhibited somewhere, along with a child’s name on it.
5. The overall atmosphere
When you find some preschools that you like, you should narrow your choice down by visiting them. Even though you can look at the photos and videos on the website, it is still best to visit it and check out the overall atmosphere. In that way, you can get a feeling about how children feel spending time there. The place should feel happy and the children should be calm and content. If the atmosphere is somewhat tense and feels disorganized, there is perhaps some problem in the preschool’s structure. The preschool you choose should feel like a home for kids and not a boarding school.
6. The curriculum
Moreover, it is also key to get familiar with the curriculum the preschool uses in their day-to-day learning. There are various plausible preschool curricula available. Each preschool can decide which one to use. A preschool can also modify an existing curriculum, blend two into one or create a completely new one. Whatever the options preschools go for, there must exist some kind of a written document that acts as a detailed guideline, offering explanations and specific activities the children engage in, There should also be a connection between the activities and the skills children obtain.
7. The menu
Proper mental and physical development requires children to eat well. Eating well implies eating a diverse, nutrient-rich menu. As children spend a considerable amount of time in preschool, the menu should be good enough to satisfy all of their nutritional needs. The menu should include different kinds of meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts (check for allergies), fish, and other food.
Very special requirement preschools need to fulfill in order to get a working license is safety. There is a detailed list of things preschools need to have or adjust on their premises for them to be safe for children. Being young, children are still unaware that they can get hurt doing certain things. That’s why it’s best to minimize this risk by taking the necessary precautions.
Take your time and be thorough when it comes to choosing the right preschool – it will mean a lot for your children’s future academic and success in general.