Like every year, this summer thousands of preschools in the country will begin a new academic year. If your child is about to turn 18 months, it is the right time for you to start searching for Nearby Preschools. If you are still wondering whether your child needs a preschool, read more about Why they should be in a preschool.
For the first-time parents, the shortlisting and selection process could be stressful. Generally, for parents, the selection parameter is restricted to just vicinity, brand or the cost of the investment. However, if this is your first time, you probably are thinking about how to evaluate, select and choose the right preschool. You may have spent hours of research on your last purchase of a phone, car, furniture or a house, critically evaluating your purchase on a variety of parameters. Though education falls in a separate league, you may want to make an error-free decision about your little one’s future.
BestOfSchools has surveyed hundreds of parents like you and understood those million questions popping in your head right now. Through this article, we intend to partner with you in your preschool journey and provide a variety of intrinsic, extrinsic and peripheral parameters to asses and choose that perfect preschool for your child.
The physical environment relates to the appearance, arrangement, and ambiance of the physical surroundings and infrastructure of the preschool. UNICEF and Ministry of Women and Child Development, in its ECCE Handbook, have called physical infrastructure a “necessary” condition for ensuring the quality of an Early Child Education programme. When you visit a preschool, request for a floor walk and make mental notes about the following.
- Classrooms and halls should be well-ventilated and have adequate provision for sunlight.
- There should be ample space for all the children for free play, sitting in groups and moving inside the class.
- Cabinets and shelves should be childproof and within a child’s easy reach.
- Children must have exposure to the natural surroundings, therefore open and green play areas with ample playground equipment must be available.
- There should be separate toilets for girls and boys.
- Classrooms should have developmentally appropriate toys and learning material.
When you shortlist preschools, keep your area of preference in mind. The preschool should be easily accessible, approachable, and comfortable for your child and you. Though preschools also provide transport, you should still prefer schools that are within a close reach. If both parents are working, preschools with daycares closer to your offices will also be in your consideration set.
When you visit, assess the preschool based on surrounding areas, the school shouldn’t be in the midst of a noisy neighborhood, nor should it be located in a secluded area. You should also check for waterlogged ponds or landfills, which could be a breeding space for mosquitos. It may be a good idea for a preschool to be located close to a hospital, however, some preschools also have onsite doctors to attend to any emergencies.
This area should be the focal point of your discussion with the preschool counselor and teachers. Prepare yourself for this discussion and refrain from falling in the “anything goes” trap. Yes, your child will learn, play, socialize, do fun stuff, and these are the only mechanisms through which your child will build skills which will last a lifetime. You should know about your child’s developmental milestones and the critical skills the child will be blossoming with.
- Preschool curriculums are focussed around key domains such as Cognition, Personal Identity, Socio-Emotional, Motor skills, Executive skills, Language skills, Physical Development, Numeracy, etc.
- Some preschools also base their curriculum around different pedagogies like Montessori, Reggio-Emilia, Waldorf, etc.
- You can also confirm the primary language of interaction
Knowledge about these concepts would not only help you make a better decision on your preschool search but also empower you to make meaningful contributions in your child’s growth.
You may also inquire about the preschool’s academic calendar for assessment modules, PTM sessions, activity plans, meal plans, field visits, and parent counseling sessions. Although, not important you may also assess the effectiveness of preschools by asking them about their role in formal school admissions.
Your child will be making the first contact with newer faces outside the family. It is important that the teachers and caregivers in the preschool are well equipped with abilities to handle children. They should be sensitive to the child’s needs and be able to provide emotional support to children when needed.
You should inquire about the general qualification of the teachers, whether they have completed Nursery Teacher Training, what is their average years of teaching experience, and the total time spent with the preschool. You may also request to meet the teachers personally and start building a personal rapport between your child and the teacher.
Preschool teachers are early education caregivers who will be role models for your child, they are proficient in connecting with children, stimulating their minds and managing the behavior of a small group.
At this time you may also asess the capabilities of administrative and support staff of the preschool based on their passion, energy, and cohesion in a team. Children will change rooms, go for outdoor play, participate in events, take toilet breaks, board, and deboard bus, go on field trips, and mesmerize you by their first stage performances. Making all this possible requires a well-concerted team which is attentive, responsible, and work in near perfect co-ordination.
With most parents we meet, security usually ranks as the top criteria for evaluation. Since children carry higher risk perception, as a parent you should fully assess preschools on these factors.
- In urban areas, preschools should have gates guarded by security personnel
- Preschools should be surrounded by a high boundary wall made of a solid structure.
- Schools must have more than one exit or fire exits.
In some preschools, CCTV surveillance provides an additional layer of security and cover specific areas inside and outside the preschool premises.
While seeing your child grow with other children will be a fulfilling experience, we advise you to assess the preschools’ preparedness for any eventuality. During your visit, assess how child proof are the interiors of the class, stairs, toilets, and play areas. Safety should be embedded in the culture and therefore be mindful of the physical environment within the preschool facility.
- Ask if the preschool has a designated safe assembly area.
- Preschools should have installed fire-extinguishers.
- If your child would be using school-provided transport, you must also ensure that the vehicles are safe and in good condition.
- Kitchens should be a safe distance from classrooms and rest areas.
From age 1 to 5 your child’s brain architecture would be developing rapidly. In this period your child’s body will be developing immunity. In these tender stages, children are more prone to pick up and transmit germs, viruses, and bacteria. Good preschools promote a habit of cleanliness and hygiene among children. Your child will learn to wash hands, use dustbins, prune nails, cover mouth while sneezing and handling a handkerchief. You should also assess the cleanliness routine followed by the preschool. Visit classrooms, toilets, and kitchens. If your child will be using the daycare, request to see the sleeping rooms and beds. Ask the preschool counselor whether they follow a weekly disinfecting drive.
- Make sure there is a provision for clean drinking water.
Although not a standard, the following ratios will help you in objectively assessing the preschools.
|Students per Adult|| Max 10 (up to 3 yrs) |
Max 20 (3-6 yrs)
|Students per class||Max 30 for a classroom of 30 sq. m.|
|Hours per day||4 hours|
|Gender Ratio||1:1 (ideally)|
|Children per vehicle||No of seats|
Plan your visit
Firstly, plan in advance and make a list of your target preschools by searching the internet, talking to friends, asking colleagues or finding preschools near me on BestOfSchools. Make sure you call and schedule a convenient time to meet the preschool counselors. Avoid scheduling visits when classes are in session.
Lastly, getting feedback and opinion are a great way to know about things which your eyes may have missed. Reach out to neighbors, friends, colleagues and find out if they have an opinion about the preschool you just visited. You may also request the preschool to introduce you to some existing parents.
Choosing a preschool is a crucial step towards your child’s holistic development. Make it a collective decision by involving your partner and other family members in this preschool search.
As a final tip, involve your child also in this decision by taking him on a trip to the preschools in your consideration set. You will know your choice immediately by observing your child’s behavior and reaction in the new environment.
BestOfSchools hopes that this article has helped you. The content of this article is based on surveys conducted with parents. If you have already visited few preschools, we would love to hear from your own experience. If you have another tip or an idea, which can help parents, please provide your comments below.
Key Contributor: Venus Khaneja