Sooner or later, the time comes when your child must be introduced to the wide world, and your choice of early learning program is critical, if you wish your child to develop in all the right ways. In order to help you in your quest for the best early learning program, here are a few things to avoid.
- Academic Learning – It is generally agreed in developed countries that academic study should commence at around 7 years of age, as with Year 1 of the UK curriculum. If, for example, you visited a kindergarten and noticed that the children were being asked to write alphabet letters; the precursor to writing, this is far too early for numerous reasons. The goals of an early learning program should be to develop social skills, imagination and creativity within the children, and any kindergarten program that forces the children to learn to read and write should be avoided.
- Too Many Children – The ideal size for a group of 3-4-year olds is 10-12, with 15 being the maximum, and if you visited a kindergarten in Bangkok, you would expect to see the kids in groups of 10. Large groups of kids are not only difficult to manage, the teacher can’t give the time for each individual child; which is far from ideal. The teacher should have a helper – usually a younger person who is entering child care as a career – who would spend time with each child during a range of activities.
- Lack of Controlled Access – It is important that the school has controlled access, so if you visit a preschool and notice that people are allowed to enter and leave at will, this would be an issue. Aside from having a digital controlled access system, every square metre should be covered by CCTV cameras, for obvious reasons, and parents would have a swipe card to enter.
- No Outdoor Space – It is vital that the children spend time outdoors and most preschools would have a nice garden, with many play resources; indeed, many schools would make the best use of their outdoor facilities. Young children need a connection with energy and nature is a critical aspect of learning, with perhaps a small area where the kids can grow things.
- Too Much Travelling Time – Your child should not be in a vehicle for any longer than 30 minutes at a time, and while this does limit your choices, there are likely to be at least 3 preschools within a short distance of your home and the best way to locate them is using an online search.
If you carefully consider all of the above when looking at kindergarten schools, this list will hopefully help you to make an informed decision on the best preschool for your child. When looking at school websites, make sure you read their vision & mission statements, which would highlight what the school considers major objectives, and when you think you have found the right venue, arrange to take a private tour, when you can ask a list of prepared questions to help you make your decision.