Leaving home to go into education for the first time is a big step for your little one, so you need to make sure you’ve picked the right establishment. With so many to choose from, how do you make sure you get the best one to suit their unique personality?
Initially, practically is important, so the key focuses should be location, cost and size. You need to make sure you select a school that is near enough to your home so that your child doesn’t have to travel too far. Factor in all the costs, including transport, uniforms and equipment as well as tuition fees so that you can make an accurate budget. Size is also vital, as you don’t want your child to feel too overwhelmed or receive less support from teachers than they need, but at the same time smaller schools can lead to less socialization and fewer activities.
Having narrowed down your list, make sure you go to visit the school and get a feel for what it’s like. Make more than one trip, so that you can create a shortlist alone before you take your kid along. This way they won’t feel too overwhelmed visiting a lot of schools and being introduced to many new environments.
Once you’ve narrowed it down by culture, make sure you have a look at the curriculum to find out what they have to offer in terms of learning. Some schools, like this private preschool in Chicago, offer a flexible curriculum geared around helping infants and pre-schoolers adjust to leaving and moving into full-time education. Larger schools support children from preschool through to middle school, allowing them to stay within the same establishment and get used to the routine. Each option will appeal to different children, so make sure you talk to your child, partner and other caregivers so that you make the best choice for your little one.
Ask lots of questions to make sure that you fully understand the school, its philosophy and the way it will structure your child’s day. Children need some structure, and as such it’s important that you explore the way their day will progress at each school and understand what they will be doing so that you can find the school that will provide the best experience for your child.
Most importantly, make sure you involve your child in the decision. After all, they will be the one spending years attending this school, and so they should have a say in your selection. Take into account their concerns and try to explain any differences in opinion (for example, they may not like the blue carpet or the teacher’s hair, whilst you may be enamoured with the school itself) so that you come to a decision as unanimously as possible.
Finally, remember that this is an important decision, and one well worth taking time over. Preschool will help your child to adjust to education and will often be the first place they make real friends, so make sure you explore all the options available before you commit: your child will thank you in the future.