Preschools and kindergartens should be a place where children cultivate their love of learning, expand their knowledge, gain skills and learn to socialize. While both preschools and kindergartens help ready children for primary school, they shouldn’t stop being children.
With so many preschools out there claiming to be the best, it’s understandable that parents are confused what makes a good preschool.
To help parents sort it out, it’s good to refer to a list compiled by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) below.
The 10 Signs of a Good Preschool
1. Children are playing and working with other children or working with materials. They are not aimlessly wandering around or made to sit quietly for long hours.
2. Children have access to various and stimulating activities throughout the day such as block building, pretend play, reading books and painting. They are not all doing the same things at the same time.
3. Teachers do not spend time with the entire group only. They work with individual children, small groups and the whole group at different times during the day.
4. The artwork displayed in the classroom are all done by the children themselves, not drawn or made to look good by adults. The children’s invented spelling and dictated stories should be all up to see too.
5. Children learn numbers and the alphabet in the context of their everyday experiences. Meaningful activities include exploring the natural world of plants and animals, cooking, taking attendance and serving snacks.
6. The children are learning through play. They can work on projects and have at least an hour to play and explore. Worksheets should not be their primary activity.
7. Children have the opportunity for outdoor play every day when the weather permits. This play is never sacrificed for more instructional time.
8. There’s storytelling time throughout the day but also independent reading time with guidance from teachers.
9. Every child learns differently and at a different pace so the curriculum should be adapted for those who are ahead as well as those who need additional help. A child who is ahead but is made to stay at a lower level will get bored and start ‘acting out.’
10. Children and their parents look forward to school. Children are happy to go to school and parents feel safe sending their kids there. The children should not be crying every day or regularly sick.
In a nutshell, the school should be an environment that helps young children learn and grow without fear and force, and focus on the development of a child as a whole. The children should feel good about themselves and feel comfortable in a school-like setting.