What do parents prioritise when picking a preschool for their kids? Location, curriculum, price and personal recommendations, to name a few. But what about personality? Before you schedule a round of preschool tours, add these two oft-neglected considerations to the list – your child’s personality as well as your own.
#1 Ask yourself – what would your child want?
“First and foremost, parents should choose a preschool based on their child’s personality,” says Dr Vanessa von Auer, founding Principal and CEO of Integrated International School. “You know your child best. Some children will adjust to a routine of preschool of any size quickly, and others who are used to being with mum and dad most of their days need a more family-oriented approach.”
Think about how well your child adjusts to schedule changes, new people and social environments. Has your child had the same primary caretakers since birth? Is she an only child without much exposure to other kids? If the answer is yes to either question, perhaps a smaller school may be in order.
“The advantages of children attending a small, intimate preschool is that the type of close interactions and attention they receive will ultimately assist them in cultivating independence and confidence,” says Vanessa. “Smaller schools like ours do this especially well because our teachers have the time and resources to make toddlers feel safe.”
Parents of four-year-olds usually have an acute sense of their child’s likes and dislikes –kids have a way of making sure of that. But how do parents of very young children factor in personality when their child can barely speak?
Vanessa, who is also a child psychologist, recommends finding a school that focuses on play-based learning combined with a Multiple Intelligences teaching approach. You may not fully understand your child’s disposition at 18 months, but you can see signs of how they approach learning as early as infancy.
“Some babies enjoy textures more, some enjoy visual materials like books more, some really perk up when they hear music, and others prefer building. So, when kids enrol in our Little Tykes programme at 18 months of age, our teachers can assess what learning approach would be best suited for them as they get to know each personality.”
Little Tykes is IIS’s newly launched nursery programme for kids 18 to 30 months old. Vanessa, or Dr V as her students lovingly call her, takes a hand-on role in the Little Tykes classroom, assisting until new students have securely settled into their day-to-day routines.
#2 You – the parents – matter too
It isn’t all about the kids. The parents’ needs and preferences are key to a good preschool fit as well.
Is it important that you’re able to enter the preschool to see teachers and your child’s classroom on a daily basis? Do you prefer a quick, teacher-assisted drop-off so you can get to work or another child’s school on time? If you choose a preschool that doesn’t match up with your personal values, the adjustment period will be longer for parents, too.
“Some parents need more frequent communication with the teachers than others. Some would like their toddler’s milk warmed up at school, or for their children to be allowed to bring in a ‘comfort toy’ from home,” says Vanessa. She designed Little Tykes to accommodate requests like these to ensure the entire family feels comfortable.
For this reason, the nursery programme also offers a “phasing in” adjustment period where parents are welcome to stay at school until their child is settled and confident to say goodbye to Mum or Dad.
The Little Tykes programme is currently accepting children from 18 months to 3.5 years.
Read more in our Schools section!