Plan for a milestone on life’s exciting journey
Published at 11:08, Thursday, 24 November 2011
WHATEVER decision we make for our children, we always strive for it to be the best it can be.
We consider our children’s lives as precious and often within the first few months of their lives we find ourselves planning for them, down to those important decisions as to the educational journey they will pursue.
One of the most difficult decisions parents have to make is choosing the most appropriate pre-school. Essentially this is their first cautious step on a long journey through our educational system and an experience that is filled with emotion.
Through my own experiences, as both headteacher and parent, I find myself taking on two perspectives: one where I look closely at the education we provide for our youngsters, and also where as a parent, we put a huge amount of trust in the people and settings we choose.
Choosing a pre-school can be one of the first experiences your child has of learning outside the home but the choice can at times seem like a daunting task.
It is never too early to start thinking about your child’s future and we are fortunate to have very accessible information to make this process easier. Starting your preparation and planning early can help you make a well-informed choice and will mean you are less likely to miss key deadlines.
Learning and playing with other children in a safe, structured environment, will help your child’s development, giving them a head start when they begin school. Essential learning started in the home is built on and extended, so skills in a nurturing context can be enhanced. This stepping stone is vital and gives your child a good opportunity to mix with children of a similar age and increase their confidence before they begin mainstream school.
Every child is unique, with their own needs and interests, and every parent is unique too, with your own particular circumstances, preferences, views and feelings about the kind of care and education that your child should receive.
There are four key things that distinguish good, high-quality early or pre-school education services that I suggest you look out for: quality staffing; good premises; stimulating activities; and a welcoming atmosphere.
Inspection reports and school websites are important to your decision, but do not rely on these alone: visiting and seeing the school in practice and seeing for yourself the school’s journey on ensuring improvement is essential.
It is always a good idea to visit the pre-school or maintained nursery you are considering, to enable you to look for these “quality pointers”. Listening to your child is also important – they are the ones who will have to spend time in the setting and always attempt to find out more if they seem unhappy or unwilling to attend.
Trust your feelings – you know your child and you are the best judge of whether they will be happy and will thrive in a particular setting.
Do be prepared to revisit, refine and re-prioritise your wish list. Often the school lower down on your list might surprise you and make you rethink.
Choosing the right school can be like buying your first home. Ask yourself: did you walk in and feel at home; did you come out feeling good? If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right.
My role as a parent helps me make informed decisions as a headteacher and I know in my role that schools feel rewarded for their commitment to enabling a child’s first steps in education to be a positive one.
Never feel like you are wishing your child’s life away when making this decision. See it as a move towards making a well informed decision as to where your child will experience a happy, safe and flawless start to a very exciting and prosperous journey which if made correctly, you both will enjoy.
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk