Playschool is the first step for your child in the outside world. It is the first platform where he will independently interact and learn from people other than his own family. It is probably the first time your child spends time away from you outside of your first circle. It is a crucial time for the child as well as the baby.
Along with joy and happiness, parenthood also brings in a level of responsibility. It’s not easy for the parents to hand over their little one to strangers and is equally unsettling for the child to step away from the security of the environment he has known forever. While a part of us, as parents, is excited about this new chapter in our child’s life, a huge part of us is anxious about handing them over to strangers. But its inevitable.. isn’t it?
Choosing a playschool requires you to invest time and energy. With Rey turning two in December, we knew we had to start doing our homework on schools soon. We started with scouting for play schools in our part of town.
Here’s how we filtered and short-listed a playschool for Rey.
🔍 Testimonials and reviews speak volumes about a school’s reputation. We asked our family & friends, checked social media thoroughly for anything which was not acceptable.
🔍Location & distance: something close and easily accessible. Distance also plays a major role. Look for a playschool which is in your vicinity so that it is convenient to reach your child whenever needed. Make sure the location is also strategic and has a better surrounding, for example, no stagnant water bodies around that can lead to diseases, etc.
🔍 Security (guarded gates) + Safety (fenced stairs, furniture, toddler proofing): Ensuring CCTV coverage doesn’t guarantee a safe environment but it does help. Pay a visit to the playschool before enrolling your toddler to inspect and satisfy yourself.
🔍 Hygiene (including kitchen & washrooms) in and around the school: Children will be spending a considerable amount of time at the playschool (especially if you opt for day boarding too). It is essential that the playschool maintains a hygienic environment for the children o flourish in. Do not miss the toilets.
🔍 Learning methodologies & academia: Another important factor is to consider the school’s philosophy and the overall approach towards learning. There are different methodologies playschools follow:
- The Montessori Method – (an approach I have been using with Rey at home too)
- The Reggio Emilia Approach
- The Waldorf Approach
- The HighScope Approach
- Rudolf Steiner Approach
And many more.
🔍 Curriculum + Extracurricular activities + exposure: Check the curriculum the school follows (it should not be draining for the child). Playschool, after all, is about playing and learning. Another important factor is the extracurricular activities like singing, dancing, painting etc. There should be room to just relax as well.
🔍 Student – teacher+helper ratio: One of the most important factors. Enquire about the student to teacher ratio so that your child gets proper attention. The fewer children a teacher is in charge for, the better for the child as he will receive more attention and time from his teacher. No matter how efficient, a teacher cannot run a classroom effectively and give the kids the attention they deserve running after 20 kids. Also, check for the school’s helpers ratio and involvement. They help with activities like toilet trips and feeding themselves and moving around the school premises.
🔍Infrastructure + facilities: It helps if the playschool is on the ground floor. With so many children moving around, stairs become a threat to their safety. Check if the school has baby gates installed at every stairs entrance and exit.
🔍 Developmental milestones and observation sharing with parents: ANother important factor to consider. SOme playschools have a quarterly reporting system. I personally feel quarterly is too late especially at this stage where the child is in a constant learning phase. Ask the school how often the school shares your child’s development.
🔍 The probability of future absorption in higher classes: It is always a plus point as it will relieve you from the hassle of looking for a formal school a year later.
🔍 Fee structure: This may be the easiest factor. Get a list of affordable schools that suit your pocket and budget.
In addition to the above, another point to consider (even more than the above points) is to understand your child. Is the school’s approach aligned with your child’s personality? Take your child along for a visit. It will be good to see how your child responds to the environment, the teachers, and the school. Observing your child in the school’s environment will give you an idea whether the school and the child will be a good fit for each other.
Most importantly, trust your instincts. Do not get dazzled by the fancy equipment or play zones or a gleaming building. Don’t depend on the numbers they share of fooled by the marketing strategies they deploy. Pay multiple visits if required. Visit during school hours to get a true picture.
It is, after all, the place where your child’s personality will start getting honed.
What points did you consider when you chose a playschool perfect for your child?
Hope these points and tips will help you make an informed decision. Wish you all the best!