Preschool shopping. I thought I was pretty much over & done with after my virgin round in December last year which resulted in us deciding on a school that wasn’t even on the shortlist. That was until the decision to move homes was firmed up about 3 weeks ago. And with frustrating peak-hour traffic jams regardless how small the island we live on actually is, coupled with the Bo’s and my new workplace being at the opposite end of our new address and Liam’s current school being in the middle of it all; we’ve agreed that one of this variables has got to change, starting with the one we have the most control over. And so we’re back to preschool shopping – round 2.
Thankfully because we’re now a little more experienced than the first time round in knowing the questions to ask, what to look out for and in flagging any concerns that we have upfront, this 2nd round has been a lot of more manageable. Within 2 weekends I’ve managed to cut the shortlist to 2 schools solely based on proximity and Liam’s excitement towards them during the respective school tours. But as with the paradox of choice goes, even having to choose between 2 has its own dilemmas.
I had initially decided on school A when I heard great feedback & reviews on it from parents who had sent their kids there (coincidentally from Liam’s current school). A school visit wowed us all with its vast outdoor grounds with a huge playground sitting in the middle of it, and I really liked its strong advocacy in promoting literacy and outdoor play via different sports. The kids are also involved in the storytelling through song & dance & props that they make during art lessons (which reminds me a lot of our Julia Gabriel days). Unfortunately the only thing that bugged me was that they didn’t have an infant care programme available at that branch.
School B came into my radar a week after I visited school A, by chance. I was blown away by their defined philosophy as compared to the vague ones that most schools cite with the term “unique approach. I’d admit that first impressions on being greeted with their smaller compounds and limited outdoor space did make me want to give the school tour a miss but I’m glad that I gave it a chance. I was impressed by the curriculum talk, the principal’s address and the staff’s confidence in answering my queries; and loved that they adopted the Reggio Emilia approach, building on the principles of learning should be fun, enjoyable and discovered by children themselves and acknowledgement of how children should be given endless ways and opportunities to express themselves through the foundation of confidence building and experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing. And they also have an infant programme available which reminds me of my gymboree moments with Liam. But because of their smaller grounds, the idea of having teachers manage students to & fro crossing a road to get to the park is not sitting to well with me. I will however give them credit for engaging Liam in a blocks building activity for a good 40 minutes (he was a very happy boy!) as I sat through the curriculum introduction and went for a school tour at my own pace.
Sure, it’s only preschool…some may say. And since my purpose for sending him to one has more to do with emotional, social and cognitive skills development, finding the school that fits him the best matters to me. It doesn’t have to be “branded” or boast the most comprehensive learning program or have the fanciest facilities but if their focus aligns with mine, in this case as with school B where they believe in nurturing a child’s natural appetite for knowledge and in a strong parental and community partnership, I believe that’s good enough for me…and Liam.
While I’m confident that Liam will adapt really quickly to his new school given the thumbs up received from him during the school tours, at the end of it all, I just want him to have a good time before his primary school days ahead.