By Brenda Leeman, devoted mommy to Connor, aged 6, a Registered Counsellor with a passion for helping children. Runs Chameleon Play Therapy Centre which offers School Readiness Assessments.
The year 2016 is in sight and some of you are now faced with the daunting task of choosing a pre-school for your little ones. Leaving your child in the care of strangers for 5 hours a day is no easy feat; but if you arm yourself with knowledge of what to look for in a pre-school, you’ll be much better prepared to face this new challenge.
One of the key roles of pre-school is to prepare your child for Grade 1
This can only be accomplished if the school follows an appropriate curriculum and has an assessment programme in place to catch scholastic issues early on. If the school is lacking in this area, I tend to call it a day care instead. A day care will not prepare your child for Grade 1.
Find out which primary schools the pre-school feeds and give them a call to find out how the children from said pre-school cope in Grade 1 compared to the rest of the class.
Be aware of your child’s emotional reaction to starting pre-school
The adjustment is difficult for any family, but let your instinct guide you here. If you feel that your child is not settling in fast enough, there might be an underlying issue that needs addressing sooner rather than later.
Are your child’s teachers trained to know when your child needs help?
It’s usually a given that your child’s teachers love working with children but this might not be enough. The high demand on our children to keep up with the class means that, for some of them, external therapeutic intervention will be necessary. A good pre-school will have a solid referral list of OTs, play therapists, audiologists, etc. In fact, a great pre-school will have them on site sometimes and available to talk to parents about their child’s particular needs.
Remember that your choice of pre-school is not irreversible
If you’ve exhausted your intervention strategies and your child is still not coping, then don’t feel bad for choosing to move. It’s less disruptive to your child to change pre-schools than it is to change primary schools. So remain sensitive to your child’s needs, both academically and emotionally; and never feel guilty for making hard decisions based on instinct.