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  • Finding The Right Preschool Starts Now, Not After Community Quarantine

    Make sure it’s an environment where your child will feel safe.
    by Kate Borbon .
Finding The Right Preschool Starts Now, Not After Community Quarantine
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You may not be thinking of preschool for right now because of the enhanced community quarantine. But it can be a good time to do your research and see which school is a good fit. By the time we can actually leave our homes, you have narrowed down your choices, and you are ready to make a school visit.

    How to choose a preschool

    Of course, your child is the first thing you need to consider when choosing a preschool. What kind of learning suits her personality. Ask yourself questions like:

    • “What kind of environment does my child thrive in?”
    • “What makes her feel excited, at ease, or uncomfortable?”
    • “Does she need more structure or more freedom?”

    “Thinking about your child’s personality and tendencies help you recognize when the school is raving about might not actually match up with what your child needs most,” Motherly writes.

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    Check on the instructional practice used by teachers

    SmartParenting.com.ph article says “the instructional practice used by teachers has the most substantial impact on a preschooler’s academic and social skills.” You want teachers to be intentional in the way they provide activities and experiences to help kids develop skills.

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    In a 2016 Smart Parenting articleAngela Abaya-Garcia, a mom and a professor, says parents should “look for a preschool that deliberately teaches students HOW to think and HOW to communicate.” You do not want them to simply “throw content” on the kids and gauge how much they learned through tests and worksheets.

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    Learn the classroom activities

    Take into consideration the daily schedule of activities. According to Parents, preschools should offer kids lots of opportunities for active play. Play and physical activity are critical for a child’s development and promote her motor skills and social skills.

    Students should also have time for table activitiesBarbara Smith, an occupational therapist and author of From Rattles to Writing: A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skillstells Parents that children should have “daily exposure” to fine motor activities like stringing beads and cutting strips of paper. “Regular exposure to these tasks develops the hand skills children need in kindergarten.”

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    What other parents have to say about the preschool

    Be sure to be on the lookout for parents whose kids attended or are currently attending the preschool you are considering. Parents advises asking them about what they like the most and the least about that preschool, how their child is faring there, how they communicate with the teachers and staff, and more. “There is much to learn from speaking to other parents at the school and getting the inside scoop.”

    Check the classroom

    As a learning environment, how does the classroom look like? Yes, it needs to be clean and orderly, but is it a great space for play

    You should also see “signs that the children have taken some ownership of their environment,” like artworks by the kids, and spaces for activities like sensory playpretend playartreading, and being calm and quiet, Motherly adds.

    Most importantly, Abaya-Garcia says the preschool needs to provide an atmosphere of “psychological safety.” This type of environment lets kids feel safe enough to explore and that includes consistent schedules and routines to help lessen a child’s anxiety.

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    Get to know teachers

    Another vital factor to consider on choosing a preschool is the teachers. In an article for the Harvard Graduate School of EducationSuzanne Bouffard, a writer and researcher focusing on child development and education, lists down the nurturing and encouraging ways of teachers: Getting down on child's eye level, addressing him by name, and taking the time to listen. When students misbehave, the teachers focus more on helping, rather than punishing, them.

    In a previous SmartParenting article, Teacher Tina Zamora, the directress of Nest School and a Master of Family and Child Development from the University of the Philippines, says good teachers keep an open line of communication with parents. This is vital in building a relationship, especially when your kids start going to school.   

    Qualifications and experience of teachers are vital. “Ask about her training and experience working with young children and with a developmentally appropriate curriculum. A good preschool teacher understands how children grow and develop,” Linda Whitehead, Ph.D., vice president of education and development for the United States-based childcare provider Bright Horizons, tells Parents.

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