Pre-School Checklist: 5 Elements of a Good Pre-School
Posted by Strategic Communications, JGI Group on 13 June 2023

Key Elements of a Good Pre-School: Checklist for Parents - JHS

Did you know that children who attend preschool demonstrate higher cognitive abilities, improved language comprehension, and social interaction, as reported by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)?
The figures don’t stop here.

- The ICDS, (a government-run programme) also states that exposure to preschools has positively impacted the children's cognitive development, school readiness, and nutrition.
- The ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) survey has shown that children who attend preschool have higher foundational literacy and numeracy skills compared to those who do not attend.

According to research and surveys, we know that preschool makes a long-lasting impact and difference for kids. Consid ering its criticality and significance in a child’s growth, we have to be extremely car eful and considerate before choosing the right preschool for our kid.

However, as a fast-paced generation trying to cope with increased digitisation, we have so many options to choose from considering factors, such as price, availability, location, etc. All of these factors often confuse us and can hinder our evaluation skills in selecting the potential preschool for our children. So, to help young and dynamic parents, we have narrowed down the key five elements that we must look for when choosing a preschool.

1. Classroom learning ambience

We all know that an engaging, joyful, and stress-free learning environment is conducive to a child’s learning. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that classroom atmosphere and design are important elements of a good preschool, as they affect a child's learning experience and overall development. The classroom design should facilitate social interaction and stimulate innovative learning among the children.

As a parent, what should we look for?

- Organised, well-lit classroom, free from clutter
- Thematic decorations on the classroom wall, often display the children’s work
- Personalised spaces, such as cubbies or hooks for storing belongings
- Name labels on chairs or tables help children develop a sense of belonging
- Age-appropriate materials and resources
- Easily navigable classroom layout

2. Teachers

Honestly, teachers are considered second parents, and they play a very important role in a child's early development. Pre-school teachers design and implement appropriate activities that nurture the children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. They foster language development in young children by providing rich language experiences, engaging in conversations, reading books aloud, and encouraging children to express their thoughts and ideas.

As a parent, what should we look for?

- Look for teachers who have relevant education and experience in early childhood development or early childhood education
- Teaching while maintaining eye contact with kids
- Teachers prompt students to resolve disputes
- Observe their enthusiasm, energy, and love for teaching

3. Play-based learning approach and social-emotional development

Pre-schools should focus on play-based learning, as it lays the foundation for a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. The fact that children are able to experiment and explore different activities and experiences helps them interact with other students and people around them. Allowing children to take the lead and make choices in their play, taps into their natural curiosity, interests, and motivations, thereby fostering a love for learning.

On the other hand, social-emotional development helps children acquire attitudes, skills, and abilities to comprehend different emotions, build relationships, control their emotions, and navigate social interactions. Through positive and supportive interactions, preschool also enables the children to develop a sense of self-confidence and resilience.

As a parent, what should we look for?

- Classrooms have charts and pictures on the walls to help kids identify feelings
- A quaint spot in the classroom to allow kids to relax
- Toned-down punishment tactics and no implementation of corporal punishment
- How often do teachers engage in open-ended activities and problem-solving with the children?
- Are there ample opportunities for child-directed play and exploration?
- Are materials and resources available to support various types of play (imaginative play, sensory play, constructive play etc.)?
- Is the physical space arranged to support play-based learning, with designated areas for different types of play and learning centres?

4. Age-appropriate curriculum

Young children are supposed to undergo different cognitive, social, and emotional changes during their growing years. An age-appropriate, well-rounded curriculum is extremely important to kindle the development of the above-mentioned factors in children. A good and balanced preschool curriculum should provide structured learning activities with free play and allow children to progress at their own pace. This approach helps introduce new concepts and challenges in a way that is accessible and achievable for the children’s developmental stage. This initiative fosters a sense of competence, curiosity, and motivation, thereby promoting optimal learning and growth.

As a parent, what should we look for?

- Review the learning objectives of the curriculum
- Inquire if the teachers use observation or other assessment methods to analyse each child's strengths, challenges, and growth areas
- Children create and explain patterns
- Children playing with puzzles and games that require counting or an understanding of more and less
- Inclusion of art-based learning, where they learn through project work and artistic experiences
- Restricting imitating like a parrot and mugging up answers
- How do we track what my child is learning? How do we tell if my child is learning? 

5. Safe Learning Environment:

A good preschool provides a safe learning environment for children by providing for their well-being and safety. The physical environment should be child-friendly, clean, and equipped with age-appropriate accessories to minimise physical hazards and risks and reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries. Besides this, a good preschool should also foster an emotionally safe and conducive learning environment that will allow kids to feel safe and explore new experiences without any hesitation or fear. This can be done by setting consistent routines, having clear expectations, and having supportive relationships with teachers and peers.

As a parent, what should we look for?

- Hazardous and sharp items are out of the children’s reach
- No open bodies of water
- Tall furniture secured to walls
- There is a proper security system in place that prevents the entry of strangers.
- Basic cleanliness standards are met
- Proper measures must be taken to combat any accident or emergency, like fire outbreaks, earthquakes, etc.
- Presence of adequate emergency systems in place
- Medical rooms to tend to minor injuries
- A proper background check on the teachers and other staff of the school
- Evaluation of the latest state inspection report

Wrapping it Up!

To put everything into a nutshell, a proper learning environment in accordance with the above-mentioned factors is important to promote positive social interactions among pre-schoolers and encourage cognitive and social growth and development in children.

Follow the checklist mentioned above and make the right decision for the children!


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