What parents should expect in a school.

During the years that any child attends school, parents will encounter a few different forms of education.  Should both parents be required to work, a child may be attending a nursery from a young age. There are many options available and sometimes the choice, and cost, may become overwhelming. There are some points to consider when making the difficult choice of where to place a beloved child in the preschool years.

1.The  location of the school is important.  Being close to where you work or close to where you live are two factors that could influence a trip to and from school. Consider the quality of the time that would be spent with a child in the car. Attending a school close to home would make the trip in morning and evening traffic less stressful for both a parent and a child.  Socially, should the child have a play date, it would be easier to play with a friend somewhere closer to home. Knowing the local community would offer opportunities for further sharing between parents in areas such as local babysitters, interesting places to visit and where to find bargains. Sharing in a child’s progress with a nearby friend would reassure parents. Another advantage is that parents would be able to call upon someone that they know is reliable should they have an emergency.

2.  The type of school will need to be assessed with regard to the hours that the child can be looked after as well as the amount of stimulation that the child will receive. For example, a playgroup will allow the children to play and develop some social skills. A creche will look after tiny babies and potty train them at a later stage. A preschool will have an organised program which works according to the milestones that a child reaches at each stage of the early development years. There are other franchised schools where a child can attend from birth up to five years of age, and they follow a strict stimulation program where the child is worked with on an individual basis every day. Children respond well to this kind of environment as they feel a sense of wellbeing because they are developing and being offered new circumstances  to explore and challenges to meet.

3. The apparatus and space available in the school will have an effect on how a child feels at the end of a school day. Safety as well as the variety of climbing equipment are important aspects to consider. Sandpits that are clean with an assortment of modelling and pouring toys are necessary to encourage exploring senses and early mathematical concepts such as volume. In the outdoor areas there should be some areas of shade as well as grass so that a child can run and find shelter from the sun. a cycle track or area to ride scooters and small motorbikes is essential to developing large muscle groups. Indoor areas should be spotless and the toys, construction equipment and puzzles should be displayed so that they appeal to children. The space in the classroom should be enough to enable the child to move about without disturbing others busy with activities.

4. The bathrooms MUST be clean and there should be enough toilets so that at any time ay least six children can be using the toilets per class. The toilets should be small, age appropriate and the basins should be at a level that a child can reach to wash hands and to encourage independence in the use of the bathroom. Towels should be clean and washed and changed often. Preferably, dispensed towels should be available. Tissues and wet wipes are to be available in each class so that noses can be kept clean. The changing room for small babies should be spotless.There should be a nappy dispenser and trained staff to do this job with care and dignity.

5. A learning program should be clearly visible to all parents and each class should have a register of all the children and contact details for their parents. There should be emergency procedures visible and a first aid box for any cuts and scrapes. Some, if not all, of the staff should have had first aid training for emergencies.

6. Artwork that has been neatly displayed and clearly marked in infant print with the child’s name is a good indication of the standard of what the school can offer. The printing everywhere should be consistent as this facilitates early name and word recognition. Drawing tools should be varied each day and there should be different approaches to painting activities so that the child can experience a range of painting opportunities. The general appearance of the school should be neat, colourful and interesting so that it stimulates and inspires the children in it to create. Construction as well as fine motor activities are important aspects to guiding a child along the path of competent writing skills one day.

7. Staff at the school should be cheerful and kind, gently helping children to grow their social and academic skills. They should be neatly attired and clean. During the free play period, staff should be observing children and ensuring their safety as they explore apparatus.

8. Food that is provided such as porridge early, a snack such as a sandwich at about 10 0′ clock and there may even be a hot lunch served at 12 o’ clock, is important. Should the school offer all of this, it may make the morning trip a little easier. Check the menu and ascertain whether it appeals or not. Find out what is expected for birthdays and Bakerman days. Some schools prefer parents to send their child’s own lunch  to school and  they may specify what needs to be in the lunchbox.

9. Aftercare facilities at schools vary. Some schools have a full day program, while others offer an educational morning program followed by an aftercare facility. Sleeping options may be available for a midday sleep before the child is collected. Ask to see the areas for this and check to see that clean linen is used. Be sure to find out whether a further packed lunch will be required for the afternoon. Make sure that there is water available at all times during the aftercare period. Find out who the teacher is who will run this facility and make sure that there is an opportunity to meet with them before a final choice is made.

10. Costs are an important factor in everyone’s lives today. School fees should be upfront and any other costs should be clearly available for parents to see on the school website. Be aware of notice clauses and late payment fines but also be aware of early payment benefits.

A child should wear durable and comfortable clothing. It should not be difficult for a child to be changed or for the older child to cope with going to the toilet without struggling to be properly dressed afterwards. Most nursery to pre-schools provide gear for wet weather and mud kitchens, as do forest schools.

Take time to make this choice and know what will provide a child with a meaningful, happy experience at school. Speak to other parents if possible and make an informed choice.

May the joy of learning become a reality from the beginning of your child’s school life!

Should you require further advice, please contact yvette@yveher.com



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