Growing research suggests that more than ever, high-quality preschool education can prepare children for academic success for years to come. While preschool is not mandatory, it’s been getting increasingly popular with parents due to the benefits preschool brings. Not only does preschool expose children to their numbers and alphabets early, preschool also teaches children the importance of socialising and creativity. Find out more about preschool in Singapore at https://ourfirststeps.com.sg/macpherson/.
But how does a parent pick a good preschool? Here are some things to look out for:
Quality of teachers and lesson plans
At first glance, a good preschool may look something like children running around and playing happily. This is because for preschoolers, lessons often have to be incorporated through the form of play. But this is also highly dependent on how the teacher does it. For example, many might not be able to see and bring the educational value of building towers out of blocks or filling ice cube trays with colours, but a good teacher will be able to benefit a child through such objects. He/she is able to articulate the purpose of the activity and what the learning objective is.
Of course, a good preschool teacher should ideally possess a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development. This ensures that the teacher has formal training and sufficient in-classroom experience before actually handling a proper class of preschoolers. In addition, things like further development are also good signs of a good preschool. Does the school provide ongoing training for teachers? Are teachers given opportunities to pursue higher education or additional certifications?
Autonomy of children
Good teachers will know that young children, especially preschoolers, have short attention spans. The best way to combat this is to give students the autonomy to choose their own way of completing a task. For example, take a quick glance at student art displays on the walls — if every art piece matches, it could indicate that activities conducted at the school are mostly teacher-directed. A high-quality program will display more diverse student artwork, as this shows that students are given the autonomy and creativity to express themselves. Granted, some preschools work with curriculums that require whole-group activities — that’s alright, as long as there’s a good mix of self-directed and teacher-supervised activities.
For utmost safety, preschool classrooms should have low shelves, tables and chairs. A visible bathroom section will also be good, but not to the point of compromising the child’s privacy. Rather, have toilets for children that are within view of the teacher and set behind a low wall so the teacher can easily check if something is wrong.
Parents should keep an eye out for rounded corners on furniture, general cleanliness, covered electrical sockets and safe storage of potentially dangerous materials like cleaning supplies and paint. Things like books, dolls and anything available for free play should be easily accessible by students without the need for adult intervention.
The arrangement of materials should also be purposeful. For example, a good preschool should have different segregated areas for different purposes, be it reading, building or even playing dress up. Clear separations help children navigate their environment — they know where to go to find the books, pretend to see the doctor or cook dinner with friends.
Keeping track of children’s performance
While exams might be too harsh for preschoolers, a strong preschool program will know how to keep track of a child’s development. This includes the child’s social and emotional growth and academic preparedness. These assessments help teachers and parents measure important developmental traits including self esteem, the child’s ability to understand what adults are saying and fine motor skills. It’s also through this process that a preschool notices and identifies development delays in children. Any warning signs should be communicated to the child’s parents, and both teachers and parents should work together to address this issue.
Apart from relaying such news, teachers should frequently share information about children’s progress. Did they hit a milestone? Learn a new word? Bad preschools mainly only talk to families when there is a problem without regard for children’s overall wellbeing.
Student and staff interaction
Good preschool teachers should participate in activities and interact with children on their level, literally. A warning sign is when teachers talk down to students instead of kneeling down beside them and making eye contact. Little interactions and actions like this demonstrate a teacher who is supportive, respectful and approachable.
Creating eye contact also encourages students to converse with teachers longer, thereby developing their language abilities. As preschool teachers are stand-in parents for when children are in school, it is important that they create bonds with children and care for them as parents would, including tending to injuries or even giving hugs. Research has shown that a secure attachment between young children and teachers encourages learning.
First Steps Preschool @ Macpherson
47 Kallang Pudding Road #01-01