Choosing your child’s first school can seem like a daunting process, but a lot of it is knowing what you want and what is best for your child. Your first step is to search for a school in your chosen area on www.schoolguide.co.za. Our team has put together this simple guide to help you.
* When do I start looking?
Many preschools start to take applications in August/September for the following year, and may hold open days even sooner. So start your search by early August. Start looking at schools as soon as you decide you want your child to start to attend.
* Is my child ready?
Most schools are geared at kids ages 3 and 4, but some preschools accept children as young as 2. Check with the school to find out the details on age qualifications and other factors such as potty training.
* Think about distance
How will your child get to school? How far away is the school from your home? These may seem like secondary concerns, but they are very important. If it takes a long time to get to school, your child may be too excited by the time they get there. At the same time, if preschool also functions as daycare for your child, a long car ride may serve as important quality time for your family. A preschool close to where you live may make it easier for your child to foster the friendships he makes in school, thanks to playdates and party invitations. Once you are clear on the areas you are looking in, you can use schoolguide to search.
* Check the times and programme
Many preschools offer half day or a few hours a day and with good reason -- after even a short amount of time many children, especially younger preschoolers -- are ready for a break and need some quiet time. Some preschools do offer extended hours. Ask about all the available options and decide which one will work best for your child and your own work schedule.
* What is the school’s teaching philosophy?
All schools have different credos as does the curriculum. Some are straight-up playschools. Others are based on a teaching system. Montessori schools are known for fostering independence, Waldorf schools for their creativity, but remember that each individual school sets their own tone and has their own method. So do your research. You can also find programs run through churches and temples where religion is part of the everyday curriculum.
Always ask any school in which you're interested to spell out their individual philosophy and teaching methods for you.
* Trust your gut
Figure out what's important to you. No matter what all the experts say, you are the best judge of what type of environment he'll do best it. Think about your child's personality. What do you want from your child's preschool? Does this school feel right?
You want to find a school that offers small class sizes and low child-teacher ratios. The classroom should have play items that are clean, safe and in easy reach of little people. Make sure the outside play area is fenced in and ask if the staff is trained in first aid.
Priority number one in choosing a preschool? Picking the place where your child will be most happy. Academics are important, but your child has a lifetime of formal learning ahead of them. Preschool should be a place where your child learns to love school and learns to love learning.
Reflect on the School's Philosophy