Simple Tips – How to Choose the Best Preschool for Your Child

Finding a preschool that works best for you and your child can be stressful and frustrating. Choosing one based on your research gives your child the best possible chance at success.

There are many preschools out there. Instead of getting overwhelmed, the best way to rid of the noise is by going back to basics.

Is Your Child Ready for Preschool?

This truly is the first place the start. You know your child best.

Preschool readiness should not be determined by age alone. Instead, do you think your child is emotionally and cognitively mature enough to participate positively with other children?

Local preschools typically offer programs based on age – Playgroup (18months to 30 months old), Nursery 1 & 2 (30 months to 4 years old) and Kindergarten 1 & 2 (for 5 and 6 year olds). These programs are usually in 3 hour doses. If you require childcare as well, your child will possibly be at school for up to 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the next couple of years.

With Singapore’s compulsory school age of above 6 years old, you are really in no hurry to send off your little one to preschool to keep up with the Joneses. Instead, take time to understand your child. If you don’t think your child is ready and yet the pressure to prep your child academically creeps up, home schooling or enrichment classes may be an alternative.

Find Out What Keeps Your Child Interested

Finding an environment that keeps your child interested is the next step in finding the best preschool.

Educational philosophies fall into two broad categories - play-based (child centered or developmentally appropriate) approach or academic (teacher directed or teacher managed) approach - and there are many schools that have since incorporated ideas from both philosophies.

The Play based approach encourages children to always learn in a fun way. A child’s classroom incorporates academic skills through theme based learning centers - music and dance, math and science, art and drama, reading and writing corners. Children have the autonomy to pursue their interests while teachers facilitate, guide and encourage the children’s curiosity for educable moments. Children who are independent, active, motivated and curious to try new things, will thrive in a play based learning environment.

The Academic approach is teacher directed and managed. Activities are planned and children are guided in that learning. A child’s day will likely comprise of letters, sounds, colors, shapes, and numbers via worksheets and projects. Children are more comfortable with structured academic learning and have preference for routines will thrive in this environment.

The above approaches have their respective strengths and weaknesses. What’s important is finding a preschool whose educational approach is most suitable for your child’s learning journey.

Research and Ask for Advice

Once you have an idea on your preferred type of preschool, here are a few things you can do to narrow down your options.

Talk to people - Ask your family and trusted friends for recommendations. You can learn from their experiences and make a more informed decision regarding the right preschool for your child.

Go to the internet - There’s a wealth of information online - Google active preschool networking communities to tap into useful advice and resources. You might be surprised to find interesting feedback and reviews on your preferred preschools.

Make Visits in Person

Go and see the preschools that you like. It is important that you visit the preschool before making a decision. Even though a lot can be learned about the preschool over the internet, nothing beats a personal visit where you get hands-on experience of the educational process in action.

Take your child with you on at least one occasion to assess how they will fit into the environment. As most schools do not allow unannounced visits, contact them prior to arrange for an appointment.

Prepare a list of questions you need to ask. Besides that, be mindful of the preschool’s facilities and atmosphere.
Choosing the best preschool for your child shouldn’t be a nerve-wrecking experience. You can mitigate the process by being informed and aware, and being prepared will make the process efficient, effective and meaningful for you and your child.