Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 5th 2014 Contents IT'S BACK TO SCHOOL time and some of us
are in the midst of deciding on pre-schools
for our little ones. For the parent, this can be
a challenging process as there are many pre-
schools out there, some new, some estab-
lished, different sizes, various structures and
approaches to choose from. Some schools
start their year in January, while some start
in September and others are very open to
taking your child in the middle of these
terms, depending on the readiness of your
I view the pre-school level as a crucial part
for a child's development. It involves several
introductory and moulding stages that our
children are exposed to and taught in a struc-
tured setting. Some parents may take this
for granted and it is very important to differ-
entiate between a pre-school and a
playschool. A pre-school prepares the child
for primary school and is the foundation of
your child's structured education. A
playschool or playgroup is the level before
pre-school where toddlers are introduced to
a social and light learning environment that
is stimulating via fun activities, more visuals,
sounds, reading and physical play.
Both settings, though different learning lev-
els, should always teach and promote fine
and gross motor skills, which are crucial in
brain development leading up to your chil-
dren learning to read and write.
As a first-time parent with my now eight-
year-old daughter, I saw the benefit of both
levels for her and felt I had a more well-
rounded and developed child as a result. Note
that all children are different and parents
may have different preferences for their chil-
dren. But it is something to consider when
your toddler is showing signs of readiness to
leave the nest and socialise on a playgroup
level. A big "no-no" is to view these institu-
tions as babysitting services. If they appear
as such to you when you visit, meaning you
get vague and casual answers with little at-
tention placed on development, then the an-
swer for you should be a negative one when
it comes to enrolling your child there.
When deciding on a pre-school, there are im-
portant factors to take into consideration.
Ensure that you do hands-on visits and inter-
views, getting a feel for the school and the
environment as well as the teachers. The
school you choose will depend on the an-
swers you get and how you evaluate that in-
formation. Here is a list of questions that you
can use when speaking to the personnel in
• What is the teacher to child ratio?
• Do you do field trips?
• What forms of discipline do you use?
• Are you affiliated with any primary school
directly for placement?
• What sort of curriculum or themes do you
cover during the term?
• How can we as parents communicate
with you, the school?
• Are your pick-up and drop off times flexi-
ble, and to what extent?
• Do you teach about local culture and ob-
serve religious holidays?
• Which annual events do you have at the
• What type of parent participation do you
allow, if any?
• Do you accept children who are not potty
• Do you potty train? If yes, what are your
• How do you handle cases where children
are sick and sent to school?
• Do you have any food rules specific to
• At what age do you accept children into
• What is the maximum age you will keep a
child at your school?
• How do you evaluate a child's readiness
for primary school?
In addition to these questions, keep in mind
the following guidelines:
• At pre-school level, outings should not be
encouraged because of the age group of
the children. If the school decides to have
outings, volunteer your time to help with
supervision. Teachers always welcome the
additional help from parents who have the
• Pre-schools should have very
short disciplinary tech-
niques for the children via
love and logic. Nothing
lengthy or physical. Parents
should always maintain
close communication with
the teachers, and vice versa, on any chal-
lenges with discipline on the child.
• Pre-schools should take health and nutri-
tion seriously. There should be guidelines
to all parents on allergies, unhealthy food
and drink, what NOT to pack in their lunch
kits and, most of all, there should be strict
rules on sending your child to school if sick.
• There should always be clear communica-
tion on your child's development in pre-
school and on their readiness for primary
school. Pre-school teachers should always
carefully evaluate this and advise the par-
ents accordingly in the months leading up
to primary school registration.
It is great when a pre-school sends home ac-
tivity kits for the child to practice at home
with the parents. This shows the parent
what the children are working on in school
and allows the parents to get a hands-on feel
on their progress by doing it with the kids at
home. On the preschool level between the
ages of 3 and 5, it should be basic practice
sight cards, counting and sim-
ple phonic cards
as well a basic
By Suzette Camacho
MAGAZINE | 15
| PARENTING |
Links Archive January 4th 2014 January 6th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page