Choosing the right play school for your toddler is a phase riddled with anxiety. With research after research showing the positive impact of early education on a child’s social and academic life, this is one decision you would not want to get wrong. Besides, you want to be sure that your child is spending his or her day in a nurturing environment.
Typically for a parent, this period is marked by a whole lot of research- whether it is browsing the internet or speaking to other parents about their experiences. Once you have made a basic shortlist of schools depending on factors such as distance of the school from your home or the cost, here are the top 8 things to consider in making that ever so important choice for your child:
# Safety and Security
The number 1 factor in choosing the play school, no marks for guessing, is safety and security. When you are sending a bit of your heart away from yourself, the first thing that you need to ascertain is definitely how safe he or she is going to be. “ The school’s being well guarded and well fenced is extremely important”, says Sarita Joshi, a mother of two. The other aspects to look for include:
- What are the pick up and drop guidelines?
- Is the school being manned by security guards? Can a visitor enter its premises without prior appointment?
- Do they have CCTV cameras? As a parent would you have access to the live feed? There have been enough and more instances where untoward instances have occurred in schools and there were either no CCTV cameras or they weren’t operational. This therefore is really a non-negotiable aspect in your choice of school.
- Are background checks done for the staff?
Just as you have left no stone unturned in child proofing your home, you want to make sure that the school too has a whole lot of safety measures in place:
- Are fire safety measures in place? Are there enough fire extinguishers?
- What are the quality of toys being used? Are they lead free?
“ Remember to physically visit the place” and not just rely on what you are told by a center over the phone”, cautions Monika Bains, mother of a 3 year old. There clearly is a lot to look for yourself beyond the claim of center owners. Wouldn’t you want to check for yourself to see that the classrooms are child proof in terms of electrical sockets, have child friendly doors and more?
Research suggests that a child’s brain develops the most in the first 5 years. As a parent you would want to know what is the exact teaching methodology that the school follows and whether it has a structured curriculum. It isn’t enough for the center to tell you that it has a curriculum. Go ahead and ask the following questions:
- Is the focus developmental or academic?
- Is the curriculum well researched and up to date?
- Does the curriculum encompass activities that help the child develop fine and gross motor skills?
- Within its structure does it give the child time for some free style play?
- What kind of training do they give to their teachers? At what intervals?
- Meet the center director to see how knowledgeable and passionate they are about the education process
# Cleanliness and Hygiene
If there is one thing every mother will vouch for, it is the need for cleanliness and hygiene in the place that the child spends several hours every day. Especially since young children are prone to infections, there is nothing like being over careful. What could be better to assess the cleanliness of the place, but to visit it personally. Pro tip -Walking through the kitchen and the washrooms could be the number one test of the hygiene of the place!
# Teacher Child Ratio
A teacher, no matter how good she is can do only so much if there are many students that she has to attend to. At the pre school level, the ideal teacher student ratio should not exceed 1:8 to ensure that each child receives personalized attention. It is therefore not only important to enquire of the teacher student ratio but to also check if it is actually being implemented. A high ratio is definitely a cause for a RED ALARM!
# Regular updates
You would surely want to be kept updated of what your child is learning in school. Ensure, therefore, that you choose a school that uses state-of-the-art technology to keep parents updated of their child’s progress in real time. Progressive schools ensure parents are equipped with a mobile app that enables them to interact with the school and keep them abreast with all developments.
As a parent you are bound to be particular about what your child eats and whether it is nutritious enough. When your child is being provided meals in the playschool it is important to check the following:
- What is the quality of food being provided?
- Is it Nutritious? Is the child being offered any junk food?
- In case the child is allergic to any food, can the school cater to a personalized menu?
# Parent testimonials
There is nothing quite like the word of a happy and satisfied parent when it comes to choosing a playschool. You would definitely want to check with other parents on what their experience with the school has been. Besides speaking to other parents, you could also check for online testimonials, reviews and ratings of the playschool that could reveal a lot about first hand experiences parents have had with the school.
# Team behind the school
Last but definitely not the least do enquire about the team that makes up the school. This applies to not just teachers but also the founding team as it is ultimately their vision that translates into the workings of the school. You may want to check if it is a businessman who has ventured into education as just another commercial venture or is the founding team into the playschool space because of their passion to make a difference. Another question to ponder over will be if it is a single school or a chain of schools as the latter will have consolidated experience that will help improve the overall educational experience.
While you check the school on the above factors, it is always a good idea to bring your child to the school for a visit. You will get a first hand idea on what are the activities the child enjoys as also what is the kind of interaction she has with the teachers. Above everything, your research done, trust your instincts when it comes to the vibes you get about a particular school. If you feel it is good for your child, it is!