For mothers like us with preschool-aged children, it can be difficult to decide whether to place our children in a pre-school to prepare them for kindergarten. For working mothers, it seems practical to send their children to preschool during work hours. For stay-at-home mothers, they may have different opinions. Whatever it is, searching and finding the most appropriate preschool can be a daunting task.
For me, I went through this situation last year, when my son was 2+ years old. I couldn’t decide whether I should send him to preschool when he turns 3. By the time I finally decided to do so, I missed out big time. When I called various preschools around Sept last year, I found out that they were mostly full for year 2010 intake.
I couldn’t believe it. It’s only preschool! How could they take so seriously the enrollment of a 2-3 years old toddler? Some of the schools have waiting list, with more than 20 parents on the list. We had no choice but to put ourselves in waiting list and hope for miracle to happen. At the end, we managed to secure a place for our son in one of the preschool that we’ve shortlisted. We’re indeed lucky.
Now that it’s over, we’re so relieved that we found the right preschool and our son is doing fine at school. It can be an exhausting and time-consuming process, but at the end of the day, when we see our children loving his school, it’s all worth our hard works and efforts.
Today, I would like to share what I learned from my experience, and hopefully this will help you to plan for this process better.
1. Plan early and ahead
You need to start contacting the various preschools of your choice way before you decide whether it’s time for your children to start preschool. Remember – enrollment periods for these preschools are many months in advance. You may end up in the waiting list if you missed the enrollment periods.
2. Define your requirements
What you want your little one to achieve in preschool – learning the ABCs, reading and writing early, or simply to allow him/her to gain more social independence? What type of program or curriculum that you are looking for? Besides the curriculum, you also need to examine the costs, locations and reviews on the preschool by talking to your friends, neighbours or simply checking from the internet or forums.
Here are some useful websites that you can use as a reference:
3. Start your search and visit the preschool in person
First of all, call up the preschool to inform them about your visit. If possible, bring your child along during class time (if they allow). See how your child react during the visit and what’s his/her impression of the school. Talk to the teacher or principal to understand the school curriculum. After the visit, ask your child if he/she likes the school, the classroom, the teachers or the children in the school. Their feedback is the most important!
4. Weigh all the options and make your final decision
This is the most critical step. Think about the curriculum, costs, school hours, logistics issues i.e. sending your child to and from school, location, the food provided by the preschool, teacher-to-student ratio, environment issues i.e. whether it is air-conditioned etc.
5. Actual registration
Make your registration with the preschool once you’ve decided. You are required to pay a deposit during the registration. The deposit is refundable (most of the time) but please check on the terms and conditions.
Once you have registered your child, you can start to gradually prepare him/her for the first day of school. Finally, be proud and confident with your choice! You certainly deserve a big pat on your back for spending so much effort in this activity. Even if you finally decide that your child is not ready for preschool, be assured that your research and consideration is what led you to the right decision.