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  • Writer's pictureEleanor

3 Questions Parents Fail to Ask When Qualifying a Pre-school

Searching for a good match for the little one’s first exposure to an institution can be daunting. There are just so many choices out there. Now that the government has partially lifted the lock down, easing us into the RMCO to revive the economy while keeping close tabs on the Covid-19 spread, Daycare, Kindergartens and schools are open again.

Besides convenience of the location, there seem to be a myriad of programs and methods of teaching and one that can fit specific budgets. Parents inquire about fees, programs and children to teacher ratio but missed out on these -

1. What is the most important thing you achieve at your daycare/preschool?

I remember having a teachers’ orientation together with my daughter. The question that was put forth was “what do you think parents’ main concern would be in sending their child to a daycare Center or pre-school?”, “what do you think parents want most for their child?” The teachers came up with answers such as “education”, “knowledge”, "manners and good habits" and “safety”.

My then 6 year old quipped “to be happy!”

That is an invaluable input from a child’s perspective that we as adult sometimes overlook. When one is happy, one is receptive to learning. When one is happy, one can then be at a position to show concern to others.

We do it so well at Willow that we consistently have children walking into the gate and turn around to close the gate on their parents who are still looking-on in case their child needs another readjustment period after a long break from the MCO. There are others who walked through the gates without a back-ward glance nor goodbye, leaving parents feeling a little flummoxed.

The secret? Kind teachers. Kindness trumps a Summa Cum Laude (First Class Honors) degree. Kindness trumps flawless grammar (not that grammar is not important!). Kindness is what keeps children coming back and wanting their teachers to hug them as soon as they are out of the car. Thus, making lessons age-appropriate, engaging and fun is our aim here.

2. What is the maximum number of children you have in a classroom?

Many talks about teacher to children ratio but have forgotten that in a finite amount of square footage space, how many children and teacher and assistant teachers can one fit? Is there enough space for children to move around freely?

At Willow, we have one to five. Five children taking turns to express their ideas. Five taking turns to ask questions. That is how we cultivate expression, confidence and a sense of community. No one is lost in a crowd. Each individual‘s presence is missed if one is not in attendance. We are a tight knit tribe in a relatively big space compared to most establishments.

3. How is the community like? Are there any parental involvement?

We live in such a fast-paced rat race that we often do not know our neighbors. We would love to change that, a family at a time, getting to know more people in our community is where in a pinch, you could ask another parent to help pick up your child or invite each other to your house for play dates or ask for referrals to a doctor's or seamstress.

With a small community, we are able to customize and involve parents who are passionate about their children's learning. We have days when we invite parents as Mystery Readers to read their child's favorite stories. When we are learning about babies, we invite parents to bring in their baby. We hold play dates at our garden where parents get to know each other while their children play.

These questions will help parents decide better besides the usual run-of-the-mill. Get your list of questions ready and have a wonderful time doing school visits! For certain things, virtual just does not make the cut!

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