By Heidi Janit
When it comes to choosing a creche or nursery school for your baby or toddler, it can be quite a daunting adventure at first. There are so many factors to take into consideration. Of course we all think of the distance, the monthly fee and the hours. We may ask ourselves things like:
Will I get to work in time after dropping my child off?
How far is the school from my home? Is it worth the petrol I will be using?
Is lunch included in the fee or do I send food to school?
Now, these are all very important questions to ask yourself, but they are not the most crucial ones!
You need to consider the factors below very seriously:
- Is the school registered? (It MUST be) else do not even bother.
- How long has the school been in existence?
- What is the teacher-to-student ratio?
- What has the staff turnover been like? Do the staff stay for years or do they leave?
- What is the school’s educational philosophy? Is its ideological foundation secure?
- Are the teachers trained?
- Do the staff attend regular CPR courses?
- Does the school cater for allergy sufferers?
- Does the school have an up to date first aid box in a secure place?
- Does the school have proper fire exits?
- Does the school have functional fire extinguishers?
- What are the discipline strategies?
Chat to your friends and family about the schools their children attend. Word-of-mouth is important – if a school has a good reputation you will hear about it, as you will with a school that does not have a good reputation.
Personally, when a school tells you you have to make an appointment to come and see them, that leaves me with a funny feeling! You should be able to pop into the school anytime! Even if it means hanging around on the playground or observing a class until the principal is ready to see you.
It is vital that you meet the school principal and the teachers, as well as assistants and other staff members. Are they friendly and warm? You will get a feeling about the staff as well as be able to observe them with the children. You need to feel comfortable with the principal – is she approachable and kind?
Once you have been to the school, ask if you can bring your child in for half an hour so that she can get a feel for it. even though your child may feel shy or inhibited, it is a chance for you to be able to observe how the staff are with your child and if they are interested in getting to know her.
It is important to trust your gut. If you find a school butdo not get a “good” feeling,then don’t make a decision straight away. Choosing a school takes time and finding the right one for your child is vital. Visit a few schools and then make up your mind. And remember – just because a school boasts a spanking new building and state of the art equipment does not necessarily mean it is the right one!