Let us examine this very important phase in one`s life which is in fact, the first time one is faced with the problem of ` letting go`.
It is true that while parents tend to work very hard to prepare their kids for that all-important first day of school, they do not really prepare themselves
for this change.
Trust, say the psychologists, is the most important issue that parents have to deal with. They have to learn to trust the caretaker or teacher with whom they are going to leave the child. In order to mentally prepare yourself to entrust your child to another, you will do well to first conduct a thorough research on the available options before you zero in on the school of your choice. This exercise is best done at least nine to ten months prior to registration.
Once you have decided on the school, the next step would be to meet the teachers and to see for yourself what the learning environment is like and the methods of teaching that the school is adopting. Is the ambience healthy? Are the toilets clean? Are the caretakers neat and do they deal with the kids with gentle kindness? When these aspects satisfy your requirement, you will find that you feel more at ease about how your child will be looked after in the school. The other practical points to be checked out are the proximity and the over-all reputation of the school. This research will definitely ease the parents` minds about whether the child will be well looked after. Most parents are also worried about how the child will behave in their absence. There is a nagging fear that if the child should act up, they would be viewed as `bad parents`. This is purely because of a fear of the unfamiliar. Most kids react when they are suddenly moved from the familiar, loving atmosphere they are so used to and take time to adjust to the new ambience. This is but normal and is nothing to be ashamed about. It certainly does not make you `bad parents`!
The other aspect one has to look out for is the tough time most parents have in `letting go`. Make a beginning by leaving the child with people you trust, like your parents, close friends or neighbours and check how the child reacts to the separation. This is because the `separation anxiety` is very common both for parents and the child during the first school years. In these days of nuclear families, children hardly see anyone beyond their parents or siblings on a day to day basis, so it is a good idea to try this out.
To overcome this problem, it will also help if you could talk with other parents who have kids of the same age. You might find that they have similar misgivings and it always helps if you discuss this with them.
Take the child to the school and see if he/she is comfortable, whether he is happy to play with children of his age. Once you put him in, for the first few days, keep checking on the comfortability level until you feel he has adjusted to the new surroundings. You will be surprised to see how resilient your little one is. Children are basically social creatures and as such, will probably adjust faster to the separation than you would!
As soon as the child settles down, you should work on getting involved with all the activities that the school conducts for him. Most preschools welcome parent participation. Once you are familiar with the child`s teachers, you will definitely be more at ease about your leaving the child with them. When in doubt, never hesitate to ask questions.
Here is a checklist that you can use when you are selecting your child`s preschool-
It is a major decision you are going to make, especially as it is the first time that your child is going to be without you albeit for a couple of hours.
- Do they speak kindly but firmly to the children?
- Get down to their level to talk and play with them?
- Seem to enjoy looking after kids?
- Are alert to the needs of the children and respond quickly?
- Deal with quarrels swiftly and fairly?
- Are familiar with first aid and are formally qualified to deal with small children?
- Is there at least one teacher for every 15 kids and one caretaker for every 10 kids?
- Does it have a clean hygienic look? Does it smell clean?
- Are there enough toys and educational aids to go round for all the kids?
- Are all the entrances secure and child proof?
- Can both aggressive and quiet children be accommodated-is there enough space?
Play area around the building:
- Is it securely fenced to prevent strangers from entering the premises?
- Is it clean from garbage and foul smell?
- Is the play area filled with sand to prevent accidents?
- Is there enough activity planned to sustain the interest of the children? Is it all age-appropriate?
- Are both active and quiet creative play included?
- Does it accommodate children with varied developmental levels?
- Are nutritious snacks offered?
We certainly hope that these few pointers have helped our readers who have specifically asked for help in deciding on the school for their kids.
- Are parents allowed free entry to check on their kid`s progress?
- Is the discipline practiced in line with your concept?
- Is the staff made to periodically wash their hands to prevent the spread of gems?
- Is the attrition rate among the staff high, or is there staff retention?
- Is it a registered playschool conforming to norms or is it just a money making project?