The aim of a preschool is to prepare children for their school years.
Most preschools admit children between the ages of 3 and 5 years. However, several programs allow children younger than 3 years (mostly common in day-care turned preschool settings).
Preschools are also referred to as day care, or nursery school, or even child-care programs.
Working parents opt for preschools to get their children exposed to an educational and social setting before the kids start kindergarten (KG). This helps them with a smooth transition from PreK to kindergarten instead of just starting KG right off the bat.
When my oldest, Arya, was born, I told my husband that I would not be sending her to preschool.
And here is why.
Several friends and families sent their children to education-based preschools, where children were not only learning ABCs, shapes, and numbers, but were getting projects, and learning math, etc.
I believe that children should not have to study when they are 3 years old because it is their age to play, imagine, and have fun.
Learning should be fun and children should not be pressured!
Children are much more advanced when compared to our generation, but I believe that putting educational pressure on them at a young age can turn them off from studying.
Before our second daughter, Avya, was born, I changed my mind about sending Arya to preschool.
Not because I wanted to push her into academia, but because I wanted her to mingle with children her age and build social skills.
I work from home, so Arya never went to any day care. She was always in my care and even though we had some play dates here and there, I worried that they would not be enough to prepare her socially. (P.S. Arya is a social butterfly in general- she is active, chatty, friendly, and an eager little girl, but I was still worried!)
For this reason, we took a tour of several preschools before picking one.
Our goal was to send her to a preschool where the emphasis was on building social and emotional skills such as learning to share, taking turns, getting along with others, active listening, good manners, and understanding empathy.
Alphabets, shapes, numbers, and writing skills were additional things she would learn, however, there were no tests, or high expectations on knowing these on absolute terms.
All the learning was through free-play, hands-on practice, painting/coloring, using their imaginations and pretend play sessions.
Parents know what is best for their children and deciding pro or against preschool is a big decision.
Here are some things to ask when you tour a preschool.
Additionally, here is a checklist of things you can do to prepare your little one for kindergarten.
12 Things to Ask During a Preschool Tour
1.What is the education philosophy? That is, what is their teaching approach and curriculum like? Is it Montessori, Waldorf, Cooperative, etc. It is important to know this to ensure that the school you choose meets your and your child’s needs and skills.
2. What is the student to teacher ratio? This may vary across public and private schools. Generally public schools have more children under a single teacher’s wing, while private have a smaller ratio. This was an important factor for me because my daughter is 3 ½ years old and since this was her first-time starting preschool, I preferred a smaller student-teacher ratio.
3. What is the security level at the school? Is there a security guard? Is parental sign in/out required? How secure is the property itself? What is the pick-up and drop-off policies? These are somethings you can ask to see at the tour, especially the security of the property.
4. Are meals served at the school? If so, are there options to choose what your child can or can not eat? This was important for me because due to cultural reasons my daughter does not eat certain meat products. Therefore, it was important for me to know what would be served to her at meal times.
5. Does the child need to be potty trained? Another important question especially if your child is not trained or is in the process of being potty trained.
6. What methods of discipline are used? It is important to know how the teachers discipline the children. Do they use time outs? Is the distraction method used? How do they respond to tantrums or other difficult behavior? This can help you as parents because you can apply the same techniques at home to stay consistent with the school. (Provided the technique is okay by you as a parent).
7. How much free-play is allowed? Some schools focus more on academics while others prefer to use hands-on activities to teach the children. At the preschool level, learning ABCs was not as important for me for my daughter. I was more focused on her developing social skills like sharing, empathy, language skills, and getting into a disciplined routine. Even though there are some important academic skills necessary for kindergarten, I feel that children can learn those anytime. Social and emotional intelligence trumps everything else in my books!
8. Meet with a few teachers or better yet, see them in action with the kids. Ask about the teachers turn-over rates as well.
9. Cleanliness of the school. Children can be messy but I will take messy over dirty any day!
10. Do children take naps? If so, how long and at what time?
11. Ask about their prices and what things are included. For example, my daughter’s preschool costs include meals (breakfast/lunch), tooth-brush/toothpaste, and a t-shirt she wears at school to prevent her own clothes from getting dirty.
12. Inquire about their social media policies. Some schools like to share pictures of children in action on social media platforms. I am sure many of us are already active online, but we are also hesitant when it comes to our children.
Download the questions checklist below:
Do you have a little one in preschool or kindergarten? Share your tips/suggestions for my preschooler! 🙂