HomeOpinion & AnalysisChoosing the right ECD school

Choosing the right ECD school

inside out:with Respect Chofamba

As the year draws to an end, one of the major things behind every parent or guardian’s mind is the next step for their child’s education. It may seem like a small thing when you think of it as merely another academic year that your child needs to take. However, it becomes a completely different issue when you consider how these seemingly small steps all come together to produce nine years of primary school and six years of high school. At the end, it is never about whether you gave your child an education but the quality of education you gave them and the doors it could potentially open or fail to open.

The one time that most guardians are overwhelmed about what they are opening up their children to, is at preschool or more commonly now Early Childhood Development Centers (ECD), and rightly so. At this age, your child is like an empty canvass that can potentially be filled with the most beautiful and productive things or just utter nonsense. At this age it is never about their ability to regurgitate formulas but rather to explore the world. You want to put your child in an environment where they can explore their small world, and enlarge their horizons with ease. A place that allows them to discover more and experiment more as they develop their psycho-motor skills together with other children of their age. Of importance you have to make sure that your child is not in an environment where they are exposed to any unnecessary pressure that can disturb their own natural growth process. The best place for your child is a place where they are allowed to bloom on their own time and terms. Pressure on the young mind at this age can cause permanent damage to their self-esteem and view of the learning process.

Furthermore, ECD is not the place you just take your child to cut on babysitting costs, or where your baby goes to be taught to speak in foreign languages so you can seem fancy around family and friends. Rather it is the place where they go to get their little minds moulded and shaped. Ever noticed how your child’s ECD teacher automatically becomes their hero over a very short period, it is simply because they have the most impression on their mind. You want to be careful to send your child to an ECD centre where they teach good manners, morals, interaction with society and temperance. Make sure that your child is taught in the way they have to go and when they are older, they will not depart from it.

Having said this then still the question of how to determine the best place for your child remains hanging. Here are a few things that you can consider when choosing an ECD place for your child. The most important thing is to make sure that the place where you want to leave your child is registered and approved by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education. This is very important because it ensures the safety of your child at the school. Furthermore, you can rest at ease, knowing well that the methods of teaching and activities done at the school are ideal for your child’s little brain.

Paying a visit to the centre during school hours is a good idea. This will enable you to see how the teachers interact with the students in a real-life classroom situation. Children are really like an open book, therefore when you visit you can easily pick the manners and values, they instil in the children without being told. Words like thank you, please and share are over used in places where children are taught good morals.

While having a long list of activities that kids can do is a good idea, you want to be certain on the methods used to teach your kids these activities as well as selection of students for the different activities. It is so common to meet parents who assumed that their child would be the ideal student for piano lessons but at the end of the year they get told that their child was getting guitar lessons instead. Make sure you have an understanding of the selection methods so that you can be the best support for your child.

Get a general feel of the classroom. ECD prepares children for school in simple ways like learning to take instructions and getting accustomed to the routine and order of organised education. Take a look at how the children respond to instructions and if they are enthusiastic about the basic routines that they do in and around the classroom and school.

Issues of location also come into play. Ideally you want a place that’s close to home or located in a convenient place where you can easily pick up and drop off your child. If the child is going to use the school bus determine the state of the bus before you just think it to be the most convenient thing to do. You can also opt for car pooling if there are many other parents in your neighbourhood that take their kids to the school.

At this age children are easily impressionable so you might want to get a clear picture of how they handle issues of religion and faith, especially in a school that it multi-cultural with students from different faiths, ethnicity and social backgrounds. Although the mixture is good in preparing your child for a diverse society with different cultures and beliefs, at this age it is ideal that your child be taught the ways of your faith if it is important to you.

The issue of food can be of paramount importance if your child is going to spend a full day at school. Get an understanding of the kind of diet that they feed the children during the day. If your child has any special dietary needs, get a chance to find out if they can accommodate them with ease.

Ultimately the teacher is the single individual who brings it all together in ECD. If you get a good feeling about the teacher your child is most likely to get their perfect fit in the place, and they will get the perfect start to their 9 year journey.

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