You can always start with asking friends and family. They have first-hand experiences with different schools. Key factors in choosing a school are of course your budget and location. However, it might help to think of the following factors when you are visiting potential schools for your child.
Observe the cleanliness of the overall school. Always ask if you can see the canteen and the bathroom to check the toilet for proper hygiene.
The minute you walk in, you can already feel the atmosphere of a school. Ask yourself if the school feels inviting. If you were your child, would you like to spend hours in that classroom? How do teachers and other staff members greet you when you walk into the school? If you are able to visit during class time, you want to observe how teachers interact with the students and if the children look happy.
Ask if they can explain the educational philosophy of the school. Basically what you want to find out is what the school believes in, in terms of its community and educating children. Listen carefully to what they have to say and see how this fit with your own beliefs of raising your child. Also observe if they honor your child’s voice. You can see this if (art) works and pictures of students are displayed.
Vision and Mission
If you want to choose a school, you want to know their vision and their mission. Vision, mission and values are key elements of an organization. They are aspirational and will tell you what the school stands for and where they want to go in the future.
Ask about the class sizes and what the policy of the school is. How many children are allowed in one classroom? Will they split the class when they reach a certain number of students? If there are many children in one class allowed, it can get chaotic child and your child might not receive the full attention of the teachers. You also want to look at how large the space is and if the students have enough room to move around.
Teacher Per Child Ratio
For this, you want to find out how many adults do they pair with how many children in the classroom. The smaller the group of children per adult, the more attention your child most probably will receive. You may want to ask them what they will do if the class adds more students? Will they split the class or add another teacher?
Activities and Subjects
Ask for an explanation about the daily activities. The school should be able to provide you with a daily schedule and the subjects they teach. Nevertheless, we are talking about Preschool. For this age group “play” is very important. Play has been proven to be the highest form of research. Therefore, see if they allow your child free play during the time that he or she is in school. You might also want to find out if children get the opportunity to go outside instead of staying in the building the whole day. Further what could be interesting is to see if they offer any After School Activities. These are activities such as dancing, cooking, art and sports after normal classes are done.
What time do you need to take your child to school? What time can you pick your child up? Does the operational schedule of the school fit with your daily timetable? The last thing you want for your child is to come late to school all the time. You also do not want your child to have to wait for you every day because your time table does not match.
Even if you are a busy parent, you still want to find out what they require in terms of parent involvement. Will they invite you regularly for workshops or events? Maybe if you do have time, you can be involved as a class mom or dad. The school might have other committees or parent groups that you can be involved in. You might also want to volunteer for school events or field trips. The right school will value your involvement as a parent.
Ask the school what form of communications they have. They should have at least two forms of communicating your child’s progress. Good and clear communication with the teacher is key and can avoid many frustrations. Good communication is the foundation of forming positive relationships between parents and educators, which will surely benefit your child’s learning journey.
Always try to set up a tour to see if the school is a good fit for your family. Keep in mind that learning, especially at this early age should be fun! You want to find a place in which your child can explore and express themselves. You want to find a place in which your child will feel at home and secure. So look out for a nurturing and friendly environment next time you visit a potential school for your child.
This article was also featured on the website of the Urban Mama