As children approach preschool age, it's time to start thinking about where you're going to send them. Often, choosing that first preschool is one of the hardest steps to take. Not only is it difficult to face sending your child into a new environment to thrive on their own, it's also hard to know what's right and what to look for in that preschool classroom. With fall approaching, you may be thinking about sending your child to preschool. If you are, here are some things to look for as you evaluate classrooms.
Does The Room Engage The Senses?
Remember that sensory experiences are key to a young child's learning. When you walk into a preschool classroom, take a minute to examine whether or not it offers stimulation for the senses. It should be brightly colored and visually appealing. When you listen, it shouldn't sound harsh, excessively loud or too quiet. There should be hands-on items for the kids to play with and work with, which is important for tactile learners. This combination helps engage the senses and reinforce learning.
It Should Feel Inviting
When you go into the classroom, it should feel open enough that kids are encouraged immediately to start exploring. Everyone in the room should be able to move around easily and freely, not squeezing through pathways. It's also important that it be set up in a way that makes it easy for kids with motor skill challenges. However, if the classroom is too open or has too little structure, that can make it discouraging as well. Kids may be tempted to run in large, empty spaces, which discourages focus and learning.
It Should Be Designed At A Child's Level
If you walk into a classroom and everything is at your eye level, you can be pretty sure your kids won't notice much of it. Remember that the classroom should be designed with preschool kids in mind. That means everything should be placed in easy line of sight and reach for kids. The best design usually keeps everything placed within four feet of the floor.
Kids Have Retreat Areas To Recoup
Despite being full of energy and enjoying interaction, preschool kids get overstimulated, too. A good preschool classroom keeps this in mind and creates retreat areas where kids can go when they're feeling overwhelmed. This can include quiet, out-of-the-way spaces with lounge chairs, bean bags, big stuffed animals, or anything of the sort. Look for things like this in the classroom as a sign that the teachers understand a young child's limitations.
Inviting Objects Placed Around The Room
Manipulatives and toys that offer hands-on interaction are great for young children whose growing bodies are always moving. The preschool classroom should have shelves and stations with objects placed in easily accessible areas. That way, kids are encouraged to take them out, interact with them, then put then away. Bright colors and big, bold shapes will draw kids into these areas.
Lots Of Natural Light
Natural light is important for young children, both in terms of general health and vision development. Natural explorers, any kinds of plants you can place around the naturally lit areas also helps. The room should minimize the use of fluorescent lighting, maximizing the light coming in from outside instead.
The Student To Teacher Ratio Should Be Low
Whether the school is offering small class sizes with one teacher and an aide or there are many assistants in the room, there should be a low ratio of teachers to students. Not only is this key for safety, it also helps you be more assured of direct, one-on-one learning time for your child. The lower that ratio, the more independent attention kids will get while they're learning.
For more information, contact establishments like Sammamish Montessori School.