Why would you write a post on selecting a school, someone asked me. Well that someone has kids who are my age and that someone doesn’t know the challenges that we face.
Being an army kid, my parents had to move cities every 2-3 years, which meant changing schools that often. Was it difficult? Well no, it was rather like a cake walk, easier for them than for me. Fewer schools, even fewer boards and our safest bet was a KV(Kendriya Vidyalaya) or an Army School. Things have changed drastically and choosing a school is as crucial and as confusing as making a career choice.
Before move further, let us first know what exactly a play school is? A playschool as you may have guessed, is an informal set-up where a child learns through play. Pre-school is a term often interchangeably used with playschool. However, preschool is from 3 years to 5 years before a child starts his formal education at 6 years of age. A play school can start as early as 1.5years of age.
Parents are flustered just by the thought of leaving their tiny baby in a play school or Pre-school, all by herself. They are confronted by many fears. Here are a few things that you may look at before finalising a play school or a Pre-school for your child.
1. Location and Proximity- proximity to your home or workplace should be the prime criteria before you choose a school for your toddler. Also check if the location is safe. I happend to check one of the prime schools and the location gave me a fright. Accessing that school during peak hours or weekly market days was like a nightmare.
Another thing that you may want to check would be transport facility for daily pick-up and drops; it makes your life much easier.
2. School cleanliness and hygiene- Hygiene plays an important role when it comes to little kids. The first 2-3 years of their lives they are cocooned in the safe, clean tidy environs of their homes and this sudden exposure to multiple people attacks their immunity. Children tend to fall sick within first few months of joining the schools. It is important that school maintains high hygiene standards so that the kids don’t often fall sick.
3. Security and safety- Security measures play an important role when it comes to choosing a school. Things you can look for are security guards, female security staff, cameras, live feeds, child safe classrooms and play areas.
Also, as a parent you must find out how well equipped the school is to handle emergencies like fire and other medical contingencies.
4. Class Size- The class size would give you a figure that the teacher looking after the class would handle at any given time. The fewer students a teacher has the better attention a child gets.
While the fancier term for this is “Student-Teacher Ratio”, but it is often manipulated by authorities to attract prospective parents.
5. The happiness quotient- This you can figure out on your visits to school. Try to observe how other kids are dealt with both by teachers and the attendants. On my visit to one of the better-known schools in my locality, I saw a few teachers vehemently pulling a crying child to the classroom. Well for me that was enough to outright reject the school.
6. The fees- This should rather be your first criteria to shortlist or reject a school. You must check if the fees demanded is worth the quality, ambience and infrastructure and whether it includes expenses on books, crafts, excursions etc. and whether it fits your budget or not.
7. Curriculum/Board or pedagogy followed- while a play school is a fun place for little ones to build social skills and learn to get out of the confines of their homes, it is important that their methodology is in line with what you are going to pursue further.
Play area, playground, greener spaces, while these things may not matter to many, to me they do. One more thing that I like to observe is how much of the craft work put up in the school is done by the students. Many schools encourage students to do it and many coerce teachers over it. I like the imperfections in the art by these little artists. Whereas most schools have prim and proper art works, neatly cut out animals hanging (those schools aren’t for my child). I would prefer a school that lets my child be imaginative and a school that lets him learn by doing.
On your pre-admission visits, take your child along to see how he/she feels about it. Also, once you have shortlisted a few schools, try to connect with parents who have their kids in these schools, nothing is better than a first-hand review from parents.
Coming more about pedagogy followed in various preschools.
Thank you for reading!