At LittleLives, we’re all about helping parents. In fact, our software is a part of 180,000 parents’ day-to-day routines. Through our interactions with not just parents, but also teachers, we’ve found that the process of choosing a preschool is complex. It is also less about finding the perfect preschool, but more so the right preschool for your child.
Starting school early can show you the type of support your child may need in the later years of their education. Your child may also be better equipped with the social skills to navigate kindergarten.
So how do you choose the right preschool for your child? Read on to find out.
Know your child’s strengths and areas of growth
A good starting point would be to be familiar with the areas in which your child needs development. Only then can you assess whether the preschool can provide the right support to strengthen your child’s skills. Such support does not necessarily just refer to the academic. In fact, preschools offer many non-academic benefits – e.g. social interaction with peers and adults, patience, confidence and independence.
Some guiding questions you can ask yourself are:
- What are your child’s unique needs and needed areas of growth?
- What kind of environment do they do well in?
- What makes them excited or nervous?
- Do they resonate more with a structured or free environment?
- Can your child handle being apart from you?
- Will your child be able to make friends on their own?
While it is easy to declare your dedication to ferrying your child to the best preschool, regardless of distance, there may come a time when you may wish for a shorter commute. Especially for working parents with demanding schedules, choosing a convenient preschool would be far from a selfish consideration; in fact it would be better for the family in the long run.
Narrowing down your shortlist to preschools near your home, workplace, caregiver’s home or daycare center would be beneficial. An added bonus would be your familiarity with the neighborhood, and perhaps a greater sense of comfort in knowing your child is nearby.
Check out the school environment
So you probably would have a shortlist by now based on location and other factors important to you. The next step would be to schedule a visit together with your child to get a sense of the entire space.
Preschools may have lots going on (and a lot of noise as well)! However, they should not be overly chaotic. “The environment should be welcoming and calming – neutral tones, photos of the children hanging, home-like decor” say many preschool owners. If children feel safe and welcome, they would be better able to focus on learning.
Have a think about these aspects of the school environment during a site visit:
- Is the student check-in process secure?
- How frequent and thorough are health checks?
- How clean is the school?
- How accessible are classroom resources to both students and parents?
- Are the facilities designed for independence? For example, are the bathrooms built to help children make toilet breaks on their own?
Observe the teachers
Meet the teachers who might be spending time with your child. After all, if you are to entrust your child to them, you need peace of mind that they are reliable. When you arrive at the preschool, do a quick scan of the teachers’ moods and happiness levels - are they enjoying their work? Do they seem overly frazzled? This may be a sign of burnout and inadequate support systems for the school’s staff.
Observing how the teachers engage with students is important too. Look out for some of these indicators:
- Do the teachers speak to children as equals?
- How do the teachers distribute praise? Do they point out specific good behaviors rather than the generic “good job”?
- Do the teachers encourage self-expression?
- How do the teachers discipline children? Do they gently take the child aside and explain calmly what they did wrong and how to correct it, or do they easily lose their cool?
Communication is clear
Do your parenting values align with the school’s culture and curriculum approach? You play the biggest part in ensuring that their preschool experience is a positive one. Don’t be afraid to ask the preschool how parents stay updated on school and classroom happenings and importantly, their children.
A smart school management system is designed to make parents’ lives easier. It is, in fact, a master plan to regulate administrative operations in a consolidated, integrated, efficient and smooth way to increase the productivity of schools. For example, LittleLives’ Little Family Room helps schools foster a healthy partnership with parents! By keeping them engaged on the integrated app, parents can remotely track their child’s attendance, health, schoolwork and even communicate via a secure chat platform.