There is no doubt that being a parent is stressful, and one of the first stressors you will come across as the parent of a young child is picking a preschool program. With countless options out there, all extolling their many benefits and how they eke out the competition, how on earth do you figure out which school best matches your child’s unique needs?
Singapore American School (SAS) has compiled a list of veteran parent’s and teachers’ questions that serve as a useful starting point for parents. Questions such as “Do I want my child to learn another language?” and “What qualities do I want in the teachers?” are extremely useful talking points to help you make this important decision.
Do I want a school that emphasizes cultural awareness and diversity?
Research has shown that children's developing sense of self can be impacted as they become aware of how others perceive them at a young age. Therefore, it is vital for them to feel that their fellow students and teachers respect their culture. This will, in turn, give them greater self-confidence and a positive outlook on both themselves and school.
SAS encourages open discussion on students' cultural backgrounds, hoping that this emboldens them to celebrate their differences and respect and accept others.
What qualities do I want in the teachers?
Teachers can be the biggest influencers in a child's life after the parents, so it's essential to sit down and think about what qualities and values are most important to you.
Do you want a teacher who has decades of experience and holds multiple degrees? Do you want a diverse group of teachers in terms of gender, age, and background? SAS encourages parents to develop a wishlist of teacher traits.
Meeting teachers can be a great way of getting a sense of what traits the school prioritizes and matching what you are looking for. You may also take a personal or virtual tour of the school, sitting in on a classroom session so you can get a feel for their teaching style. Talking to parents of current students and learning about their experiences can also be very helpful.
Asking the right questions will help you find the teacher who is best suited to your child's needs.
Do I want my child to develop critical thinking and life skills?
Your child will have to navigate a maze of scams, misleading advertising, and fake news in today's media landscape. This means that developing critical thinking skills from a young age is more important than ever. There is much more to critical thinking than avoiding deception. However, it can be used in so many aspects of life, from solving puzzles and balancing the pros and cons to getting out of a tricky situation.
Children love to ask "why?" - and this is why it's so important to teach the art of critical thinking from a young age. "Why?" is the foundation of critical thinking! A good learning program will encourage children to ask questions, compare and contrast, use their imaginations, and concoct solutions to a myriad of problems.
Parents should ensure that their children's school develops critical thinking and also encourage this at home.