Find the right preschool for your child with our helpful tips
It’s a given that you as a parent want the best for your child, but how to navigate through the different choices and where to even begin? This can be especially difficult if you live in a bigger city with lots of different options. We have collected a few useful tips for you to keep in mind when evaluating preschools and kindergartens.
In many parts of the world, the academic year starts around early September. If your child is starting preschool or kindergarten for the first time in their life or are changing over to another school, this is also usually the best time to enroll, since a lot of other children will be in the same situation and your little one won’t be feeling like the odd one out.
Location, location, location
Location is usually a good place to start narrowing down your options. Think about the time you’re comfortable spending commuting to and from the preschool daily. If you work, think how the drop off would best fit in your existing commute route. If you have more time in your hands, going further afield might be an option for you, and vice versa.
You can get a first impression of a place by its exterior appearance, but it’s important to get inside the gates and examine the actual learning spaces more closely.
Does the school have a garden or a playground for the children to safely play outside? Outdoors enables more opportunities for higher intensity physical activities than indoors.
Once indoors, pay attention to things like what kind of activities is the space designed to accommodate, iIs the room filled with tables and chairs or does it have enough space for creative activities such as free play and movement? Are the walls decorated with high shelves for the teachers’ equipment or do they display children’s artwork?
All FinlandWay® Schools are designed to cater for the needs of the children and their holistic learning
Pedagogy & curriculum and accreditations
There are several different pedagogical styles, methodologies and curriculums available to preschools and kindergarten these days, regardless of their geographical location.
While some preschool models focus solely on academic achievements and measurable results, research points out the crucial importance of developing socio-emotional and 21st century skills, such as problem solving, creativity, self-direction, planning and research. These are all things you want to look for when choosing the best learning environment for your child.
In some countries, preschool or kindergarten are not mandatory for children but there are still accredited schools to choose from.
FinlandWay® is part of Education Finland, the highest stamp of approval available in Finland.
Learn about FinlandWay®’s play-, phenomenon-, and participatory pedagogy and curriculum based on Finland’s leading early childhood education curriculum here.
Curriculum is the content that is taught in school, and pedagogy is the way the content is being taught.
Teachers are an essential part of a preschool experience
Your child’s relationship with his/her teacher is in a fundamental role of their learning and development. If you’re visiting a potential preschool on a regular school day, pay attention to the way teachers interact with the children. Do they address and listen to each child individually? Do the teachers encourage children to participate in the activities rather than lecture?
You can ask about teachers’ qualifications and if they receive any further training as part of their day to day job.
Teachers in FinlandWay® Schools have participated in our extensive teacher training programme led by top education experts from the University of Helsinki, Finland as well as their local qualifications.
Safety comes first
Safety and wellbeing of the children should be a main priority for any preschool or kindergarten. A legitimate school should have a child safeguarding policy and the staff should receive specialised training around the topic.
As well as that, find out how safety is taken into account in the physical learning environment indoors and outdoors. What is the student and teacher ratio, and the maximum number of students per classroom? It’s totally okay to ask these questions before making the decision to enroll your child into any school. If the school is well organised in their safety and proud of it, they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about it and put you in ease. When it comes to children, always better safe than sorry!
FinlandWay® Schools take children’s safety and wellbeing very seriously and have special policies and training in place around the topic to ensure all staff know our best practises and know to look out for any issues and can report them if necessary.
Transparency and communication
As a parent, you want to know as much as possible about your child’s days in preschool, what they’re learning and how they’re doing in their own environment without you. Different schools have different ways to communicate with parents so try to think what your expectations are and see how they match with each candidate’s processes. A digital communication method such as an app can be a great help for families where one parent does all the drop offs, this way the other parent can still stay on track on the day-to-day stuff without being there in person.
All FinlandWay® Schools parents benefit from a mobile application providing information on their child’s development and day to day life in their school. Reports and pictures are easily accessible wherever you go!
A lot of parents narrow down their preschool options based on recommendations from their friends, family and co-workers. Pay attention to reviews you see on the website and social media of the school too.
Read what FinlandWay® Schools parents and teachers have to say here!
As mentioned above, it’s always worth it to go see each school you’re considering on site – pictures can only tell you so much. A lot of schools organise open day events and trial days for new customers so try to get in one of those. And better yet, bring your child along! Children are great at sensing the atmosphere, but also remember that a new environment and people are always an adjustment for any child and it most likely will take them a while to get fully comfortable in new situations.
We hope these tips will help you navigate through your options and wish you a wonderful new start! Check out all the current FinlandWay School locations here, and remember that we are constantly opening new locations around the world.