Your toddler is in her ‘Terrible Twos’ and you realize it’s high time you sent her to playschool to give her a taste of the outside world. Child psychologists say that the age between two and three years is the most appropriate to initiate this major step and overcome the inevitable ‘separation anxiety’ that most kids experience when they stay away from home and parents, in a new environment for the first time. Not only does playschool help toddlers to find their feet and adapt to new situations, but also lays the foundation of their personality.

 

To make the playschool experience a fruitful and rewarding one, for both you and your little one, it is crucially important to select the right playschool. This does not just mean the most popular or the most expensive place, but one that will suit your child’s temperament, your schedules, your budget and your geographical location. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you go about choosing your kid’s playschool: 

Your toddler is in her ‘Terrible Twos’ and you realize it’s high time you sent her to playschool to give her a taste of the outside world. Child psychologists say that the age between two and three years is the most appropriate to initiate this major step and overcome the inevitable ‘separation anxiety’ that most kids experience when they stay away from home and parents, in a new environment for the first time. Not only does playschool help toddlers to find their feet and adapt to new situations, but also lays the foundation of their personality.

 

To make the playschool experience a fruitful and rewarding one, for both you and your little one, it is crucially important to select the right playschool. This does not just mean the most popular or the most expensive place, but one that will suit your child’s temperament, your schedules, your budget and your geographical location. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you go about choosing your kid’s playschool: 

 

1.  Basic Lifestyle Compatibility

The key to choosing the right preschool is to be adequately prepared, with a concrete idea of what you want your child to gain from the experience and what would be a good match for your child and your family. The best way to keep from becoming confused is to think about how the preschool will fit into your daily life.

Depending upon whether you are a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) or an office-going one, and upon the kind of childcare support you have in the family, you need to decide whether it is important for the preschool to be near your home, your parents’ home or your workplace. If both you and your spouse are full-time office-goers, you might even prefer a playschool that offers day boarding facilities.

 

2.   Knowledge Of Common Terms

As your go about collecting playschool brochures and prospectuses, making sense of terms such as, ‘Montessori Approach’, ‘child-centered’, ‘playway methods’, etc. can be really confusing. So, for your general information:

  • The Montessori Method is focused on the individuality of each child. It is based on the belief that each child learns at their own pace and educational progress should not be based upon comparing students to one another.
  • The Playaway Method focuses on encouraging the child’s imagination by providing opportunities for problem-solving through creative thinking and exploration, as well as participation and analytical thought.
  • Child-centered Learning takes the children's interests into consideration when planning activities, instead of pre-scheduled topics chosen by the teacher.
  • Teacher-led Playschools provide a structured learning environment, with a curriculum and supplemental activities based on a set schedule developed by the teachers.

 

3.   Preparation And Research

Once you have decided upon the geographical location and the teaching philosophy of your desired playschool, the next step to help narrow down your options is research. With the Internet so readily accessible, the first step is simple. Shortlist the playschools that match your requirements in your preferred location. After that, locate the parents of kids attending these playschools and reach out to them to get inputs. Also, ask your friends, your neighbors, your pediatrician, your older child's teacher. It is only through the personal approach that you will come to know about crucial factors such as student-teacher ratio, quality of the staff and how satisfied parents sending their kids to those schools are.

 

4.   Personal Visit

Having once narrowed down your choices and come up with two or three places you are interested in, schedule a time to visit each one of them. You can learn a lot about a playschool by the way the staff approaches introductory visits with you and your child. During your visit ask yourself: 
 

  • Do the children of this school seem happy? I feel welcome here?
  • Is my child interested and happy with the way the staff is interacting with him?

 

5.   The Checklist

Going to the short-listed play schools with a checklist is a good idea to ensure that you remember to check for each and every important point. Some questions on your checklist could be:
 

  • Is the cleanliness and hygiene up to standard?
  • Are the security arrangements and safety features of the school adequate?
  • What is the turnover rate for staff members?
  • What percentage of the staff hold degrees in early childhood?
  • How do they handle discipline?
  • What are the payment options and procedures?

 

At the end of the day, you, as a parent, need to feel reassured that you have chosen the right playschool for your toddler. Only then can your kid enjoy her first foray into the outside world!