It takes time and dedication to match your child with the right nursery school which will meet both your child’s needs and your needs. Researching this decision includes speaking to other parents, looking at the children in the school environment and interviewing the teachers. You have the right to insist to drop by at any time and observe how things are done at the school. This will give you an idea of what the atmosphere at the school is – whether most children are playing and laughing or whether they are scared, intimidated and crying.
In interviewing the teachers from the schools, ask about the following issues:
- Discipline strategy . This is very important to optimize your child’s adjustment and development, seeing that discipline consistency between home and school gives structure to your child’s learning. This does not mean that if you believe in spanking, that the teacher has the right to punish your child in the same way. I have found that nursery schools that focus on reward rather than punishment have better results with the little ones.
- Routine. Having your child at home with you or a significant caregiver probably ensured that up to now your child had plenty of stimulation and attention during the day. It is important when sending him to a nursery school that he does not now become bored. Therefore, ask about how how they incorporate stimulation that is developmentally appropriate. Remember there is a big difference in level of maturity between a 3 year old born in January and a 3 year old born in December of the same year.
- Child -Caregiver Ratio . How many children are in the care of one person. Being a parent you will know how unfeasible it is for one person to give proper care and attention to 20 two-year-old’s. The older the children the bigger the ratio may become.
- Qualifications of Caregivers . You are entitled to give your child the best education possible. Education does begin in nursery school, it is therefore not too much to ask for someone with more than just practical experience. Even though your grandmother raised 5 children and 10 grandchildren does not guarantee that she is up to date with research and what is developmentally expected of children today. It is wonderful if you can find someone with both recent qualifications and practical experience. Remember that it is not important that the caregiver has to be a parent in order to take care of your child – most courses make room for enough practical experience as part of the grading process.
- References . Ask the school to give you the names of other parents to contact. Often when interviewing a school a much rosier picture will be painted. By talking to parents you will get a true feeling of the school.
- Philosophy . Schools may follow the teachings of Maria Montesori, Jean Piaget, Rudolf Steiner or a combination of these. It is important that you are in agreement with the fundamentals of this philosophy.
- Staff and student turn-over . This will be a true reflection of parents and teachers feelings toward the school environment.
In constructing your shortlist of possible schools for your toddler, it is important to take the following into consideration:
- Distance from your home or work
- Do they provide aftercare
- Do they provide nutritional meals or do you have to pack lunches and snacks.
- How do teachers effectively communicate with the parents
- Are any extracurricular activities available.
The final step is to take into account all of this information that you gathered and make an informed decision. Do not ignore your intuition – even though one school have the highest quality of educational material, it might be lacking the warmth and care you experienced from other schools’ teachers.