Haven’t got a preschool for your child yet this coming June? Been there, done that. In an abrupt decision to transfer to the city last year, I was left with the question of where to enroll my son in two weeks. Here are a few tips that helped me—and may help you, too—make that last-minute decision.
1. Get to Know the School and Its Policies
If you’ve already got initial prospects, search online for their official website or social media account and take time to look around for more information. You can also do a quick background or reputation check online by searching for bad comments or feedbacks from previous students and parents which may have been posted on some sites.
But it doesn’t end there.
Take time to talk face to face with the authorized school official or representative regarding sensitive issues that may be encountered by your child. For instance, do they have a policy on bullying? Bullying has become a cause of depression, suicide, and social malady for those bullied. My son’s former school has a strict policy on bullying written on paper. Unfortunately, some schools don’t take bullying seriously despite those alarming stories that made news and in spite of the Department of Education’s order on protecting the child against bullying and other forms of abuse in the school.
Also, does the school have measures in place in terms of keeping your child safe and secure within their premises? Or does it still have the traditional mindset of simply employing a uniformed guard for security? Of course, employing that uniformed guard is necessary, but you can’t always count on that to protect your child and the others at the same time. The school should have other procedures enforced for student’s safety and security, like as simple as having strict regulations in terms of sending your child to the school gate or picking up your child in school, or ensuring that food being served or sold at the canteen is nutritious and safe. I appreciate schools that impose “no soft drinks” or “bring only healthy snacks” policies.
Other things you would want to consider: Is the school building a fire hazard? Is there proper access to evacuation? How about the ability of the school and its staff to respond to emergency situations? I remember having written down a few important instructions on the form handed to me by the Directress in terms of responding to my son’s asthma attack. Yes, they would require you to fill that up, inform them of any special cases or health issues with your child, and put into details how to respond to such. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have any other procedures in place. In fact, they do and have laid it down as well in black and white. They would also text beforehand if classes are suspended or cancelled due to heavy rains or flood, or if your child gets sick in the middle of the class. They’ve been very honest as well that the main gate gets flooded somehow, but they have alternate gates for entrance or exit
2. Academic Program, Learning Methods, and Number of Students in the Classroom
While it’s true that you don’t get to learn everything from the four corners of the classroom, it’s natural to be critical: What will your child learn from that school? Does the school have anything new, innovative, and interesting subjects or programs to offer? At my son’s former school, they offer a SMART MATH class that, well, makes kids smart (and smarter than moms like me) in math. Now, my son would usually test me in adding up large numbers!
Another good thing about my son’s former school is how they considered that parents have work and are busy, so they managed to have a fixed schedule for assignments and quizzes. You’ll never miss any update, too, or catch up with your child’s class because it’s all written in a weekly sheet that’s given to your child, plus the Directress always texts all parents for any school concern.
The number of students admitted in the classroom matters, too. Imagine a class of at least 30 rambunctious preschoolers to a ratio of one teacher. Not a pretty good sight. Besides, I understand how awkward it would feel at first for my son to blend in with new classmates from the city. So knowing him, I assessed it would be much easier for him to get comfortable in a smaller class until he gets used to his new surroundings. And I was right.
3. Distance and Other Matters
Distance did matter to me, and still does up to this time. At his young age, I don’t want to waste his time getting stuck in traffic or taking a long ride to school. I want him to experience that going to school is fun and easy. Until now, I prefer good schools that are closer to home, and pick one from there.
I looked at the tuition fee, too, if it justified what they have to offer in terms of academic program and facilities. But if you’re on taut budget, you may have to look as well at the payment terms the school offers—is it reasonable and flexible for you?
4. Mothers Know Best
The moment I stepped in at Today for Tomorrow’s Learners Preschool and talked to the Directress, I knew it was the right preschool for my son. I noticed a lot of wonderful changes in him all throughout the school year, and even after. I was completely happy to see how happy he was with his classmates and the school. And that moment in the first few months of the school year when he said to me, “Mommy, happy ako sa school ko. Ayokong mag-absent at ma-late (Mommy, I’m happy with my school. I don’t want to be absent and be late),” I knew I made one of the best decisions in my son’s life.
You see, women aren’t gifted with intuition for nothing. It’s as simple as this: Listen to that voice inside you and follow what it says. But if you’re still a little unsure, well, you’ll never know things until you give it a try.