At this time of year, parents of young children face the important task of finding the best preschool for their toddler. It is normal for parents to want their child to be happy and well-prepared for the future, but it can be difficult to decide which preschool is the best match.
Before drawing your shortlist, it is important to first consider your values as a parent. Think about your parenting style, how you interact with your child, and what you want for them. Being clear about your priorities will help you identify the best match.
When you visit, apart from questions like the daily routine, curriculum, fees, try to understand the values, culture, and staff approach so you can make an informed decision about your child’s early years education.
Here is our advice for parents about the essential questions they should ask when choosing a pre-school for their child.
Question 1. How do you support new children to adjust in the first weeks? Are parents allowed in during the transition period? Is there an adjustment plan or routine you follow? If my child is upset, how do you offer comfort? How long before they go back to normal?
At our pre-school, we prioritize a supportive and nurturing environment for new children. The transition period includes a special routine and schedule for the first few weeks. Parents are allowed to stay with their child for one or two days to help build trust with our staff. Our trained and experienced teachers understand that every child is unique and may require different levels of support. They offer individual attention and care to ensure that each child feels safe and secure in their new environment. This process can take from two weeks to over a month. Parental support is key so we work together with parents to help the child make this big step forward in their growth.
Question 2. Do you have a specific philosophy or approach to learning? Can you give examples of how children learn in your pre-school?
At ICCC, we believe that children learn best when they are actively engaged and having fun. Our philosophy is centered around fostering creativity and a love of learning in each child. We provide a variety of materials and activities that encourage hands-on learning and exploration in different learning centers such as home area, construction and play area, art area, math and science area, literacy area, etc. Some activities are teacher led but there is plenty of room for child-initiated experiences in the classroom and on the playground. With the right support from their teachers, in their play children develop important skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. For example, when playing with blocks children can learn about shapes, sizes, balance, and spatial relationships.
Question 3. What is your approach to discipline? How do you handle conflicts between children? Do you have a policy for bullying?
This is a crucial age to teach children socially acceptable behavior and working together with families in absolutely necessary. At ICCC we don’t have a specific disciplining procedure. We use modeling and conflict resolution strategies to guide children through the complexities of learning good social skills, empathy and cooperation. At the beginning of the school year in each group, together with children, we establish what is good and what is unacceptable behavior. We use story characters and real life situations to teach continually the rules we agreed, and we equip children with conflict resolution skills. When there are attempts at bullying behavior, we involve parents and look for solutions together, sometimes engaging professionals to help.
Question 4. What kind of communication can I expect from the pre-school? How often will I receive updates about my child’s progress? Is there an open-door policy for parents to speak with teachers?
ICCC is a parent association with an elected Board of Parents that work together with the Director to run the pre-school. The Board takes key policy decisions with the needs of children on top of the agenda. We ensure communication runs both ways, is honest and open.
ICCC values parent-teacher communication and we keep parents informed about the daily activities and their child’s progress through special publications and daily informal exchanges. Parents are encouraged to speak with teachers and staff and share any concerns, feedback, or questions. Formal progress updates are provided twice a year and we run parent-teacher conferences mid-year to talk about the child’s overall development and set goals.
Question 5. How do you handle emergencies or unexpected situations that may arise in the pre-school?
At ICCC, we have comprehensive emergency protocols in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and staff in the event of an unexpected situation such as serious injury, fire, or earthquake. Our staff is trained in first aid and emergency response, and we conduct drills to practice our emergency protocols. For less severe situations, such as a child becoming ill or having an accident, we notify parents as soon as possible. Our goal is always to ensure the safety and well-being of children and staff and to handle each situation with the utmost care and attention.