It is important to build an excellent educational foundation for your child’s learning. To do so, it is imperative when choosing a school for their primary years you look for the best. You want a school that addresses all the major needs of our primary school age child, including socialization, nutrition, and emotional needs. However, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect school. What you want when choosing a school for your child is the perfect one for them. Here are some things to consider as you begin your search.

Convenience

Location

Location is important, as you may need to make unscheduled pick-ups if your toddler gets sick or needs your attention in the middle of the day. It is wonderful to find a school in your own neighbourhood. However, this is not always possible. Map your route to work and consider locations that are not too far off this path. Also, remember that many primary schools have their own buses that will pick up your child and return them home at the end of the school day.

Before and after school program

School hours do not always fit with busy work schedules. If you go to work before you child’s school day begins, or get off work after their school day ends, it is important to find a school with a good before and/or after school program.

Nutrition

It is important that your child receive nutritious snacks and lunches. Ask the school for a sample menu for a week to determine the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. Chips and soda may be your child’s favourite snack, but primary school should help you establish good eating habits.

Staff

Teachers

One of the most important aspects of your preschool child’s learning is the teacher they have. There are strengths and weaknesses with both veteran and new teachers. Consider taking your child to meet a prospective teacher and watch the interaction between the teacher and your child. Also, ask the teacher about their current class, looking for awareness of individual student needs, enthusiasm, and realistic student expectations.

Ask the administration about frequency of classroom observation, certification of teachers, and if teachers receive continued training and education. As school that values their faculty creates a positive learning environment for your pre-schooler.

Support Staff

In addition to the classroom teacher, your child may interact with a number of individuals providing school services. The individual who serves as school secretary, the “lunch lady,” janitorial staff, and before- and after-school care provider all need to exhibit professional, child-friendly skills. Do not be afraid to ask the administrator if the school performs background and criminal checks for all staff members.

Facility

Whichever school you are considering, make sure you visit the facility. Note things such as; availability of restrooms, cleanliness, and security precautions. Every school has a personality, and you want to make sure you choose a school that meshes with the personality of your child. Some children react better in a structured environment; others excel with freedom and creativity. Visiting a prospective school will give you a clear idea of whether or not your child will fit in that particular learning environment.

Program

Class Size

If a class is too large, your child will not get the attention necessary for a quality primary school experience. However, many schools have team teaching or use aides to make it possible to serve many students adequately.

Breaks

Your child needs physical growth along with academics. Studies show that recess actually helps increase cognitive function. The school you are considering should have at least twenty minutes of break time a day.

Academics

Look for classrooms with visual displays emphasizing reading and maths. Books should surround a pre-schooler. Also, ask a prospective teacher to explain what the students do in a typical day. You want to make sure there is time for reading instruction and storytelling.

Math concepts must be taught in preschool – greater than, less than, bigger, smaller. Look for a teacher that expresses enthusiasm about math and provides manipulatives and imaginative learning techniques that will engage your child.

Cost

The best school is not necessarily the most expensive school. Some communities have excellent public primary schools. Cost is placed at the bottom of this list for a reason: it may be of concern to you, but it is not the most important factor to consider when looking at prospective primary schools. Academics, the environment, and the program provided are all much more important than the cost.

After doing some on-line research and making a list of the primary schools that appeal to you, visit and look for aspects that meet the needs of your pre-schooler. Choosing a school for your child is an important time in both your lives as it is in primary school that their lifelong learning begins.

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