Choosing the right preschool for your little one can be a minefield! To help you make the best decision to suit your child, Absolutely Mama and Dallington School have teamed up to give you our top tips for successfully choosing the right school for you and your family.
Don’t go with the masses
You are an expert on your child – only you and your partner will really know what really makes your child shine, so don’t be swayed into making a decision based on what other parents are doing. A child’s learning journey is highly personal and choosing the right path for them early on will go a long way to ensuring they are confident and happy individuals, not only when they are young, but also well into adulthood.
Top grades are not the be all and end all
Some children are good at Maths, others at English, Science, Sport or Creative Arts – that’s what makes us unique. Recent years have shown that our society has a growing desire to label everyone and everything, but to what end? If your child shows more of a creative flair and shies away from a more academic structure, then finding a school where they can flourish creatively is essential. Shoehorning a child into a results-driven school because you have an affiliation with or admiration for the brand will not help your child in the long run and you risk your child learning to associate school with stress, fear or poor self-image.
Go to Open Days
Visiting schools with your children is the best and – honestly – the only way you are going to get a feel for how your child will adapt to their new environment. Official open days are designed to introduce you the school – both the environment, the community and its ethos. Many schools will offer personal tours, and if you miss the scheduled open days, these are a great way to quietly walk around to observe the school in action.
Homeplay not Homework
As parents, we can sometimes get a little concerned that our child isn’t going to be top of their class and, as a result, can start piling on copious amounts of work – with or without an actual tutor. Stop!
Firstly, there is nothing to be gained from measuring your child against another. All our children are individuals and pressuring them into conforming and performing will damage their confidence.
Young children at home, after a busy day at preschool, need to play. They need time to relax with their own play choices – sometimes alone and sometimes alongside an adult or older siblings. This is an essential time when they process their day and it is during play that they will unwind and articulate those experiences that have been important – being there to hear them is the basis for close and effective family relationships.
Many of us relish that moment when the children are finally in bed and we can begin to come to terms with our day – with or without a glass of wine or a sympathetic ear. Our children are no different.
Many of us have to dig very deep to maintain our focus when deadlines demand that we keep working long into the night and we certainly recognise when ‘something has to give’. Our children are no different.
Many of us delight in the rare opportunity to ‘do nothing’ for a few hours – to simply ‘be’. Our children are no different.
Of course, as parents, it is our duty to create the home environment that nurtures such positive downtime, for all the family. We have to model healthy leisure behaviour – balancing quiet play and shared indoor and outdoor activities with the clamour for screen time.
It takes a village to raise a child…
This next chapter of your lives can be a mixed bag of emotions for most families, so don’t feel alone. Having a strong sense of community will help both you and your child settle into school life. Chat to the other mums and dads, arrange playdates and go to the park after school together.
Choosing a school that incorporates a wide range of activities into the school day will not only allow your child to explore their interests and discover new ones, but will also create opportunities for you and your new-found friends to extend your children’s interests together after school or at the weekends.
If you can weave yourself into a strong and vibrant school community, it will help the whole family make a successful transition into life-with-preschool..