What I Learnt When Choosing a Preschool For My Childby Jo Townsend
As I'm a freelance writer, I am lucky enough to have spent the past three years with my little one at home with me. We got a lot of questions about whether our child was going to nursery despite the fact I was self-employed. After all, some parents decide to send their child before they are three to get them used to a nursery environment and to help them develop their skills. And while I have heard both positive and negatives from doing this, we decided that we would wait until we got the funding through at 3. Financially, it was going to work out quite expensive for us to send her and I really don't think my child was ready before the summer. We went to look at several preschools earlier this year before lockdown began and although I was worried we might have differences in opinion, we thankfully both liked the same one which made it easier. And surprisingly it was the one I initially didn't think we would go for. But I am so pleased we went with this preschool as she has settled well thankfully and we have been very happy with everything so far. As the first decision on the start of your child's educational journey, it can feel overwhelming choosing a preschool. We hadn't left our daughter aside from with grandparents so it did feel like a big deal for us. Here are a few things I learnt about choosing a preschool for my child.
It's good to get it sorted as early as possible
I wanted to go early and get it sorted as I knew they would be popular and I wanted my child to have a guaranteed place for September. A lot of the preschools get booked up in advance, especially when it comes to September as the funding starts then for a lot of children. So in January, we went and looked and made a decision by the end of February.
Don't worry if it's not attached to the school
A lot of parents choose a preschool attached to a school in the hope that it will help them to get their child into the school in September. While there are some benefits such as ensuring your child makes friends with children who will go to school with them and it also gets them used to the school environment, it's not the end of the world if they don't go to one attached to the school. You don't get automatically chosen to go to that school just because your child went to the preschool. For us, we weren't sure which school we were going to send our daughter (or get in anyway) so it made sense for us to choose one which has children who go to various schools across the area. That way, we could make a more informed decision once we had been to see the schools.
Look at their flexibility
Some nurseries are very set on the times and sessions your child can go to. I have heard time and time again where parents have had to send their kid for sessions which don't actually suit their needs. Therefore, it's always worth asking about their flexibility to see whether it will work for you. Check the session times; some nurseries only offer a full day rather than mornings and afternoons which might not work for you and your child.
Look at reviews and Ofsted
It's a good idea to look at reviews online. I checked straight away and asked others too just to make me feel better about making that decision. Also, preschools have Ofsted ratings too, so it's worth having a look at these if you need further confirmation.
Go with your gut
At the end of the day, you are the parent of your child. You know them best and what they like/wouldn't like. Just because one child loves it, it doesn't mean it's the right fit for your little one. And remember what others say is only their opinion. Therefore, consider how you feel about it and your partner's thoughts on it too and then make a decision which fits well with you both.