Monday, January 9, 2012

How to select a preschool/nursery/daycare

Over the course of last few weeks, I have got two friends asking me how to select a preschool for their children.
One’s not based in KL (or I would have asked you to send your child to my school dear) and the other friend’s child is under one year old. So I thought I will write an entry for all parents who are looking for a preschool/kindergarten/nursery/daycare.
I would like to pat you on the back for deciding to send your child to any form of formal learning setting.
A child is born with a tremendous ability to learn. Do you know that a child’s brain is 97% developed by the time he/she is 6 years old? Their brains grow and create new synapses through new learning experiences. Hence, the more you stimulate your child during the early years, the greater the learning potential your child might realize.
Firstly, consider the amount of exposure for your child and weigh it against your current arrangement. Perhaps you would your child to be placed in a learning environment all day while you work – Full Day. Or you have suitable care arrangement at home and only want a half day school – Half Day.
Once you have decided on the frequency of classes, here’s some other factors to consider in selecting a school:
This is the approach the school bases its curriculum on. It not only serves as a guide on how they run the school but also sets the syllabus for teaching content.

The most commonly heard of school of thought is Montessori, but many parents do not realize what Montessori philosophy entails. Maria Montessori recognizes that each child has great learning potential but learns at his/her own pace.

A newer school of thought is the WholeBrain learning system which is a science/logic based approach. WholeBrain learning believes that all babies are born geniuses and we just need to unlock their potential with appropriate stimulation of both left and right brains.

My ideal school is one which offers good curriculum that stimulates the right and left brains, a conducive environment for languages (English, Mandarin and Malay) and promotes social interaction.

2.Values System
No doubt as parents, you are most qualified to instill the right values in your child. But as your child spends a considerable amount of time in school, it’s important to choose one who shares similar core values as you.

For instance, I once interviewed a daycare whose principal thought that infants are ‘too young to know anything. When they grow older, then we teach them stuff.’ Uh huh no.

At our school, we teach our children the value of money, manners,  social graciousness and how to be a helpful contributing person.

You are what you eat. A good diet is especially important for very young children. As a child’s body undergoes tremendous amount of growth in the early years, what he/she eats has a strong impact on his/her physical growth.

Unfortunately, in KL, many schools feed our children processed food loaded with sugar or a porridge based diet high on simple carb but low on nutrition.

Child nutrition expert Patrick Holford said that many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. A simple change in diet to include brain food affects the development of the brain and the child’s learning ability.

A good diet should consist plenty of good fat, complex carb, protein, calcium, fruits and vegetable. At our school, we have an in-house nutritionist who dedicates a huge amount of time and research into designing our menu. We also supplement our children with multi-vitamins and DHA (subject to parental sign-up).

Is there ample space for the child to roam? We want our kids to grow up in a ‘free range’ environment, not cooped up in a small hole all day.

Scrutinize the level of hygiene. If the school does not practice good hygiene, your child is more likely to fall sick.

Safety is something that Malaysians cannot take for granted. At our school, our security is enhanced with secure tag entry and regular patrolling provided by the building.

This is a factor that tends to be overlooked. You don’t want to have to park, climb a flight of stairs yanking a stroller and struggle every morning just to get your child to work.

Instead, look for a school near your home with convenient drop-off points. If they are indoor, make sure they have escalators and lifts for accessibility. You will thank yourself when school starts.

The school should have a rule books and adhere strictly to it, such as sick child policy and designated eating area etc. Children thrive in a structured environment.

7.Honesty and Openness of the School
Have you ever encountered schools who will only meet you if you place an appointment? Or schools who are hesitant about parents observing sessions?

Schools which operate in a secretive manner may have something to hide.

Go with your intuition (yes, your innate mommy’s and daddy’s instinct) on the sincerity of the staff. Are they child-centric and genuinely care about your children? Is your child comfortable and happy?

I always recommend dropping in spontaneously when scouting out a school. If the principal or teacher is unable to give you the full attention then, they can arrange a follow-up full visit.

8.Involvement of parents
Personally I like to know what and how my child is doing in school. Parents would know how hard it is to find out from the kids themselves.

We hold regular meet-the-parents session to update them about their child, give an educational talk on a specific topic (right brain activity, diet) or engage their feedback in general. We are your partners in educating your children and it’s a two way process.

There are an appalling number of preschools, daycares and nurseries in Malaysia without license. It’s not expensive nor complicated to obtain one. If the school scrimps on a small fee to avoid registration, consider what else they are scrimping on in educating and caring for your child.
 * *
Remember, each child is different and it’s important to find a school which fits your child’s personality and your family. Doing the homework in finding the right school for your child does reap its benefits. For one, your little one will look forward to going to school everyday and meet his/her teachers and friends.
At the end of the day, all we want is our child to be happy, healthy and balanced.

No comments:

Post a Comment