These days we parents start thinking about school as soon as we conceive. Most of the working parents start planning to send their child to pre-school even before the child completes his or her first birthday. The reasons could be anything from there being no caretaker at home to both the parents having hectic job schedule or the lack of social opportunity for the child. Even if one of the parent is a homemaker, she or he thinks of putting the child into a pre-school to have few hours to himself / herself, and the child gets a chance to play with other children of his age.
Preschools a Decade Back
When I was a child, we used to have preschools run by a friendly neighborhood lady who was well qualified but could not take up a career due to family obligations. The car garage would be converted into a classroom. The neighborhood kids who were too young to join a formal school would join the preschool. The mothers could have some free time to relax and the kids could have some supervised play. There was no compulsion to join a child in preschool since school admission was without any competition.
In the present scenario the hunt for a preschool starts as soon as a child is one year old or less. The parents visit the preschools to look for the best facilities available. Usually a preschool has Nursery, LKG and UKG. The age at which the admission is given to these classes varies. Some parents prefer the preschools which also have creche so that they can leave their baby under the care of the nurses or ayahs. As the baby grows, he can continue in the same preschool. Some parents prefer the preschools which have affiliation to recognized schools so that the admission of the child from preschool to full-fledged school is smooth.
Inspection of the preschool
When the parents visit the pre-school, they look for the facilities available. The well decorated rooms, furniture, play equipment, study material, qualification and experience of the teachers, fee structure, etc. matters. In metro cities the preschools have become sophisticated run by corporates. They have air-conditioned rooms, audio-visual aids, snacks and lunch, pick-up and drop, in-house nurse or doctor etc. And equally elaborate is the fee structure.
Security and Hygiene
The parent with a sharp eye can spot the danger spots in a preschool like unprotected staircase and child-unfriendly play equipment. The inspection of toilets and cleanliness of the premises should be foremost in the mind of the parent. And so is the general behaviour of the teachers and support staff, along with transport facilities.
Interact with Staff
Interaction with the teachers also is a must. The parents must visit the school when it is running so that they have the first-hand experience as to how the teachers handle the children. They can also have a look at the activities that are going on in the school. They should ask the head of the school about the emergencies that happen and how she handles them. Also questions about how she evaluates the child and gives the feedback should be asked. Many parents are interested in how the teacher prepares the child for admission to full fledged school and whether the admission to their preferred school is guaranteed.
Set Your Expectations Right
I have myself been a preschool teacher and I would suggest that parents should understand that when they send their child to a pre-school, it is not just academics but also how he/she learns to interacts with his/ her peers, follow instructions and learn to communicate. This is his/her first interaction with society and the results convey how well he/she will be adjust to different circumstances in future.