*How do you know which school will be a good fit?*
While it may be tempting to send your groovy adventurer to the same school at the same time as his closest friends, (or the children of your closest friends!) it is vital to choose a playschool best suited to his temperament and developmental stage. Look carefully at playschools, take your time and don’t be scared to ask questions. Spend some time chatting with the prospective teacher to get an idea of the possible goodness-of-fit between them and your groovy adventurer (e.g. some adventurers need lots of hugs and physical contact during their day and some carers naturally offer this, others will place more focus on verbal affirmation).
- the size of the classes and the school;
- the ratio of carers to children;
- discipline methods used;
- the amount of free play;
- outside play facilities;
- how long the school has been running;
- whether it is a licensed school;
- the first aid training of the carers;
- what qualifications the carers have;
- what kind of academic pressure is placed on the children (e.g. being expected to sit still for long periods and complete tasks far above their abilities, a strong focus on pen and paper tasks, etc)?
Some groovy adventurers will not be ready for playschool yet. Look out for clues that your little one may give you regarding his readiness, such as:
- asking for play dates often;
- getting bored at home;
- being able to communicate his needs;
- being able to play confidently with another child (with limited input from adults);
- being able to comfortably separate from you for a few hours at a time (e.g. visiting Granny or a friend without needing you to stay with him);
- being able to focus on an activity for 5 to 10 minutes without being constantly distracted;
- being willing to contribute positively within the boundaries of a group (e.g. accepting discipline, taking turns, listening to instructions, etc).
- being able to follow simple instructions;
- being able to eat a snack on his own;
- having an awareness of his toileting needs (even if he is still wearing nappies).
You may want to put off starting at a new school if there has been a big change in your family’s life. While moving house or welcoming a new sibling into your family are generally positive events, your groovy adventurer might feel too overwhelmed to deal with another big adjustment at the same time.
If either parent has changed jobs, recently started working or travelling for work this may also take your adventurer some time to process. The loss of a close family member may be another reason to postpone starting school.
Once you have chosen a school, remember to prepare your little one with a countdown calendar, putting some photos of the school and the staff up for him to see, talking about what his day may be like, letting him play with and explore his school bag, telling him when you will be back to fetch him (e.g. after snack time or after story time) and visiting the school with him before hand.
Happy hunting and remember to hold back your tears for after you’ve dropped him off! Plan a coffee date with a good friend for that first morning!