Before your child starts school, you might look at options for pre-school. While it's not compulsory, there are various benefits to choosing a pre-school for your child. They can develop their skills, socialise with other children, and get ready for school. There are different types of pre-school available, and several things to consider if you want to find the right one. Three and four-year-olds in England get 15 hours of childcare a week, so it's worth looking into your options so that both you and your child can benefit. Here's how you can find the best choice for your child.
Ask for Recommendations
Many people will start by asking for recommendations. You might have friends and relatives who are parents and have children who are currently or have recently been attending pre-school. You might also know teachers or nursery staff who are able to make recommendations for you. This is often the best way to start your journey because you can get help from people you trust and who have some knowledge and personal experience. You might also have a medical or other professional who could help, such as a health visitor or social worker.
Checking how your choices are rated is a good way of assessing how well they perform. By looking at Ofsted pre school ratings, you can see how they have been assessed by the body responsible educational regulation in England. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are different authorities in charge of this. Ratings go from grades 1 to 4, with the numbers corresponding to outstanding, good, requires improvement, and inadequate. You can also take a look at a more comprehensive report online. While you won't learn everything from these ratings and assessments, they do help you to know more about your choices.
Look at Values and Activities
Of course, you will want to know what the values of the pre-school are, as well as what your child will actually be doing. The pre-school's values will inform the environment and the activities that they carry out. Some places might be informed by religious values, while others could have particular educational philosophies. For example, there are Montessori programmes. Some places focus on getting outdoors as often as possible, while others are run by community groups. Find somewhere that has values that line up with yours and what you want for your child.
Visit and Ask Questions
Conducting a visit is essential before choosing a pre-school. It will give you a chance to see what it looks like, get a good idea of what happens during a typical day, and ask important questions. While you're visiting, you can observe things carefully to see if the staff look happy and how they interact with children. Ask any questions you have, and consider writing some down before you arrive so you can get essential answers. It's best to get any concerns out of the way as soon as possible.
Find the best pre-school for your child by exploring your options and scrutinizing them carefully.