When it’s time for your little one to go to pre-school, how do you decide which school is going to be the best for you and your child? There’s plenty that goes into making that decision, and as it’s a space that your child is going to be spending a lot of time in, you want to make sure that it’s a good fit. Here are some of the things to keep in mind.

The basics

First things first, look at your budget and work out how much you can afford to spend per month. Consider your work needs and how many hours your child should spend at their preschool – will a half or full day work better? Location is also a big factor – how will your child get to and from preschool and would it be preferable to be closer to home or to your office? Another consideration to include is whether you’ll have time to prepare breakfast, lunch and snacks for your child every morning, or if a creche that includes these would be preferable. Lastly, ask for referrals from paediatricians, friends and family for preschools that they recommend and the type of education environment that they think would benefit your child. 

Pay them a visit

Once you’ve put together a short list of preschools that meet your basic criteria, it’s time to visit them and get a feel for each school. Is it clean and hygienic or messy and chaotic? Are the teachers warm and welcoming? As you walk around, take note of the size of the classrooms and play areas – what are the facilities like and are there enough toys and educational items to play with?


Look at how the teachers are interacting with their students. Are they positive and engaging? Do they ask questions and genuinely listen to kids’ answers, or are they dismissive? How do they resolve conflicts – is there any form of punishment or discipline, or are children guided through the conflict resolution process? Is the environment quite strict or is active free play and stimulating activities encouraged?


Enquire about the teachers’ qualifications. Do they have basic training in courses such as first aid? What curriculum does the school offer and is it accredited in any way? It’s imperative to know how your children will be spending their day – will teachers be taking an active role in their education or will children be left to their own devices in front of a TV? We suggest looking for a pre-school that offers rich content, hands-on learning and play that is appropriate for your child’s development. 


Lastly, find out exactly what is included in the fees. Will the monthly costs and registration fee cover items such as stationery and extra-mural activities? Are there any add-ons such as swimming or language lessons, or an outdoor play area that will benefit your little one and make their world a richer one? It’s also worth clarifying how you will be able to communicate with the pre-school – how will you to be kept up to date with their day-to-day activities and progress in the long-run, and will you be notified about their diaper changes, meals and nap times?

While there are many factors in choosing the right pre-school and creche for your child, it’s an important decision that has long-lasting ramifications not just on your child’s development, but also your peace of mind as a parent.

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