If you are a first-time parent, the thought of sending your child to kindergarten can be a little overwhelming. For years you will have been the one guiding and teaching your child at every stage. You will have watched them grow and noted every small step on their journey. Now, probably for the first time, you are handing them into the care of someone else. Some people see kindergarten as little more than a regular babysitting service, but that view is seriously mistaken. Kindergarten has a significant role to play in both the nurturing and the education of your child. It is at kindergarten that your child will begin to really interact with others and start to learn the social skills that will take them all the way through school and into the world of work. Here are four areas you must consider when choosing a kindergarten.
Is there a welcoming environment?
Kindergarten should be somewhere that your child feels happy and where they enjoy going each day. Before you make your choice, it is worth visiting several kindergartens and gaining a sense of the atmosphere in each. Do they feel like happy places? Are there children's artworks displayed on the walls? Are there obvious indoor and outdoor activities for children to enjoy? Do the kindergartens feel like somewhere that learning will be stimulated? The answer to all or most of these questions should be 'yes'.
Are there positive staff interactions?
Try to visit the kindergarten when there are plenty of children there. Look at the way that the staff engage with the children. Do the staff seek to stimulate the children and keep them involved in everything that is going on? Do all the children seem happy and contented? Again, the answer to these questions should definitely be 'yes'.
Does the kindergarten achieve good learning outcomes?
Every kindergarten should have strategies in place to help children achieve defined outcomes. They should be monitoring the children and working with them individually to encourage them in the areas where they are weaker and build on areas where they are already doing well. Obviously, these outcomes will be assessed through structured play activities rather than through exams or tests, but they should still provide actionable data for both staff and parents so that progress can be monitored.
Finally, it is always important to make certain that your chosen kindergarten has their paperwork in order. Check that they are accredited to Australian national standards. These will normally be displayed somewhere on their site. If you don't see them then don't be afraid to ask. It is vital that you have confidence you are leaving your child with a professional organisation.