In this age, when every other two year old can be seen sauntering off to ‘school’ toting brightly coloured bags and bottles, can seemingly rattle off rhymes and songs by the dozen, can perform mathematical wizardry at the drop of a hat and can be safely expected to pen down kindergarten memoirs when they graduate from kindergarten; it is natural for you as a parent to want to enroll your toddler in the ‘best preschool’ in your area. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Is your little one old enough to venture out of home?

The first step that you as parents need to ensure is that your child is actually ready to start preschool. While most experts agree with the concept of sending kids to preschool (before the start of formal education which begins at four years), the jury is still not out on the ‘appropriate’ age the child should start his academic life. Most kids start preschool between 2-1/2 and 3 years of age (although some schools even admit kids as young as 1-1/2 years in what is termed as play groups.) Ultimately each child is different and only you as parents can decide whether your child is ready.

Finding the ‘right’ school

Once you decide to admit your child to a preschool, it is time to do some ground work to zero in on a right school. At this stage, it is imperative for you as parents to understand that there is nothing called the ‘perfect’ preschool; hence what you should ideally be looking for is a school which is right for your child. Remember that this is the place where your child will start his academic life, and with it form an opinion of the whole concept of learning.

The whole idea of admitting your child to a particular preschool just to get admission to a ‘prestigious’ school is highly debatable. If the preschool meets the particular needs of your child, it may be a good idea to go for that school, even if does not have a ‘name’. Proximity to the school is also a factor which should not be over looked by you, as this will ensure that your child need not travel long distances and can be easily picked up if unwell.

The Check-List Test

toddlers in preschoolSince there is no licensing body for preschools in India, there are no standards set for the type of infrastructure, curriculum and staff. This means that almost anybody can set up shop; so you need to ensure that your child will be safe within the premises and also that he or she will benefit from the time spent there. One of the best ways you can find out about a particular preschool is by talking to other parents who send their wards there. It will give you an unbiased view of the general environment, hygiene, staff and activities.

It is also a good idea to speak with the principal/head of the organization, to get an idea about the philosophy of the school. For instance, the main driving force behind a particular school may be preparing their students for admissions to big schools. This might translate to a high pressure competitive environment for your toddler. Ideally you should pick out a school which encourages a competition free environment where the kids are not pressurized or compared with each other.

Some other pointers to look out for: