When it comes to choosing a preschool for your child, you want the very best. With many child care facilities in your neighborhood to choose from, how do you differentiate the great from the average? Here are a few guidelines.
A great school will be guided by a set of written rules. These will cover topics such as policy on sickness or on snacks. What is the policy on snacks? Do they encourage or tolerate candy or other unhealthy foods? Also, ensure their policies are such that you can pick up your child or visit whenever you want.
Average schools may have ground rules, but they might not be written or may be inflexible.
Great schools have great curricula that are learner-centered rather than directive- and teacher-centered. Here are some characteristics of a good curriculum.
In a great school, children will engage in active and creative learning. Most of the time, you will find the children working either with their peers or with materials such as toys, puzzles, building blocks, and picture books.
In an average school, children may be wandering about aimlessly or sitting quietly. Other preschools will be using TV instead of activities to engage the children.
A great preschool will split into smaller groups at a certain point during the day. Such an arrangement ensures children get to interact with each other and with the teacher. Children will also have adequate time to play outside.
Great preschools offer curricula that are appropriate to the child's age and that give attention to differentiated instruction. Art is open-ended to encourage creativity. There should be no sample artwork to copy from.
The quality of teachers makes a huge difference. In a great preschool, teachers are competent, qualified, and (above all) passionate. The teachers connect emotionally with the children. They are adept at managing negative situations such as behavior problems. They are also responsive to children's needs and respect the children's opinions and choices when possible. They are at least college-trained and have a background in early childhood development. The teacher-student ratio is also small. Because the teachers are happy, staff turnover is low. This kind of stability makes the children feel more secure.
Finding great child care is not easy. You may need to visit a few preschools and spend time, even a whole day, observing the goings-on. Pay special attention to the teachers, the curriculum and the policies.