I have shared in this post that we are looking for a preschool for the Little Jedi. Choosing a school is not an easy task. Like a building, a child’s development starts with a very strong foundation. I never realize there is so many things to consider and not just the budget. I mean, I am going to entrust my son’s development and learning in this institution so I became a little meticulous.
We have decided on the school for Lucas. Before I made the final decision, here’s a list of the things I considered:
In my previous post, I shared the comparison among three different teaching approaches: Progressive, Traditional, Montessori. Moms and Dad’s I highly encourage you to understand these three approaches before you choose a school. Every approach has a different focus, different goals, different teaching style. Think hard and decide on how you want your child to learn. Remember, choosing a school is not only for you. It is also for your kid.
I ask for the student-teacher ratio. I want to know how much focus a teacher would give to my son and to everyone else. I ask about the teacher aids as well.
I brought Lucas to all the schools that I shortlisted and checked how he reacted about the place. Was he comfortable? Was there an area that Lucas liked? How did he react with staff? Did he look excited? Scared? Bored? Your kid will be the one attending school. The slightest hesitation about the school may result to loss of interest in attending school, or he may elicit fear about being in school.
It would also help if the school offers trial classes. Your child will get a feel of the school, the teachers, the activities. Observe him/her during classes. Was he given opportunities to express himself? Was he encouraged by the teachers? Did he feel comfortable?
Trial classes will also allow you to see the teachers in action. How do they manage the children? How do they transition from one activity to another? How do they build rapport with the children? How’s their grammar (Yes, this matters to me)? Do they look sincere?
Take note of these things because your child’s opinion matters….a lot!
It would be very helpful if you get to talk to the teachers. One, because they can answer all your questions about the program. It’s important to me to have rapport with the teacher. I can tell if a teacher is sincer or scripted. I check if I am comfortable with her.
I want to spend a good amount of time with the teacher. I ask a lot of situational questions to them. What happens when, how do they manage what, etc. I like a teacher who talks more about her students, the activities and listens to the parents too. I never liked teachers who talk about themselves a lot. To me, it feels like she’s teaching to get good feedback for herself. A teacher who talks about her students (in a positive/constructive manner) makes me feel more secured that her goal is to help in the development of the children.
The closer the school is at home, the better. My son is three. I do not want him to feel the stress of long travels going to school. Maybe he won’t mind but I do not want him to feel tired or sleepy when he gets to class or when he gets home. Again, the travel experience may not be pleasant and may cause him not to like going to school. Don’t get me wrong. He will learn how to travel far for school and commute. Not just yet. 🙂
In my visits to the schools, I always asked if I can check the classrooms. I want to see the activities that they are doing in class. Here’s a tip that I got from a friend: check out the boards. Check if all of the children’s art works are displayed and not just the best looking ones. This would tell if they are encouraging all children to feel happy and proud about themselves because this helps boost a child’s confidence.
I also checked the curriculum, the list of activities planned for the school year, field trip venues, parents’ activities and worksheets. I would like to know how the year ahead would look, sound and feel like for my son.
I also asked about the school’s goals for the kids at the end of the school year. Of course I want to know if we have the same goals and if they will meet my expectations. If our goals are different, I also want to understand the school’s point of view.
The classroom visits that I did also allowed me to check out the tools that the school is using. I checked the books and toys. I checked out the free play area and if the toys are appropriate for toddler or if the area is safe. I told myself I would be so disappointed at a school, no matter how great the reviews about it is, if I see a single toy that encourages violence: guns, swords, etc. Thank goodness I didn’t see one in any of the schools I visited.
I also checked if the area has good security, if the play area is far from any potential accidents, if the outdoor play area is far from vehicles. I checked if there is an in-house nurse or if there is a clinic/hospital nearby.
Let me be straightforward to say that the school that you are choosing is something that you can also afford. Even if I want to send my son to high-end, exclusive schools, I’d have to sell an arm and a leg to make that happen. Remember that there many good schools that are within your target budget. Or find ways to afford the school and sustain it. You just have to know and be clear with your priorities and goals.
I have always relied on blogs and forums for recommendations, feedback and referrals on anything and everything under the sun (including the sun). When I had my shortlist, I started reading reviews about the school. I like it if the writer/contributors/blogger shared their personal experience with the school. I believe and respect feedback.
I and my Little Jedi are both about to take another milestone. He will be a school boy and I will be a mother of a school boy. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time! Although it looks like I am the only one who feels this way in the household. I better connect with my mommy friends to get advise and exchange notes. 🙂