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Choosing the right kindergarten. What to consider? Part 2

For starters, let’s speak about people who directly interact with your child every day: nursery teachers. Pay attention to what they say to children and you personally, and how they say it. Another important aspect is their appearance: how tidy and neat they are. This is essential given the fact that kids like to emulate adults.

You don’t need nursery teachers to love your kid, because love is different, as well as its manifestation. What you need is respect for your child. Respect is when a teacher doesn’t say such things as: “Shame on you”, “How many times did I tell you this”, “I told you”, “You are bad”, or “It’s bad”. Respect is when a nursery teacher sits with a child and explains the wrongdoings in a calm manner rather than talk superiorly; it’s when she approaches your child rather than just screams at them; when she has eye-to-eye talk rather than reprimands a child turning her back on them.

It’s normal for a kid to misbehave at first, but one should not tolerate this. It’s essential to clearly define the boundaries: what he can do and what is unacceptable. Ask nursery teachers what their reaction will be when a child refuses to eat? What will they say if he doesn’t want to sleep? What about when he has peed himself? What is their immediate reaction when a child has broken something? I am sure you don’t want your child to be frightened by spook stories before he goes to bed. What will a teacher do if two children have got into a fight, or couldn’t share a toy? What is the reaction when a child is obviously horsing around, or, even worse, swearing?

It’s important to know the answers to these questions, but what is even more important is the way the teachers react to questions like these and the way they respond. You can judge by their responses if these are professionals, or just unqualified ‘biddies’ your child will spend the whole day with. Should I even comment on the fact that nursery teachers must be polite and speak in a good manner? If they don’t great you properly and they don’t use a “please” or a “thank you” in their conversations, how do you expect your child to be polite?

Pay close attention to the way they speak: their grammar and tone of the voice are essential. If the teacher doesn’t speak properly and has a wrong pronunciation – this might influence the way your child speaks in the future.

Important point is an academic environment.

The better the place is organized and thought through, the better it involves a child into a learning process, kindling their interest in everything new. Children absorb information from everywhere - first come movements and feelings, and then words. That’s why a simple class can be ineffective, if it involves lectures only, and doesn’t motivate a child to think, search for answers, analyze, make mistakes and retrieve them. Plus, children have different interests, thus, some of them might remember nothing from a class. The fault here lies not in a child, but in the ineffective teaching approach.  I have once attended a class of logic for 4-year-old kids. The “biddy” (a teacher) was simply writing down the exercises on a blackboard, then asking children to do them, and then immediately giving answers to those exercises, giving kids no time to even think and try to find answers. Some nurseries and other teachers were sitting in the back of the class, prompting, as if they were trying to demonstrate their intellectual abilities to the young audience. There was no math or logic in that class. What’s worse, the kindergarten where I observed this “teaching method” is one of the chains of kindergartens around Kyiv. A child should understand why two plus one equals three - learning answers by heart is not a way out. A professional teacher can always find a better approach to train a child's ability to concentrate and memorize things.

You should take a good look on teaching materials, methodologies, and programs.

Ask teachers how exactly the class goes on, and what are they planning to do when a child is inattentive? It happens that a teacher thinks she has planned a good class, but the audience doesn’t respond to it.

When it comes to international kindergartens, you can consider them for three reasons:
- either you are planning to move abroad in the next two or three years;
- or one of your family members speaks the other language;
- or you don’t need Ukrainian as such.

If it’s not the case, you should look for more comfortable conditions for your child, and where he or she can learn their native language. It will definitely benefit you in the long run: when your child goes to a Ukrainian-language school, the transition period will be much smoother. As far as foreign language is concerned, a child can learn it in a more mature age, using modern technologies and programs. Many American and Canadian researches proved this. It usually happens that international kindergartens are located near international schools that in many cases don’t have a truly child-friendly space.

During these Q&A meetings with teachers you will feel the way they treat you. If you have already annoyed them with your questions, they will approach your child with prejudice. Look how patient they are when they answer your questions. If a nursery teacher is too impulsive and crusty, she should not be teaching in a child care. How fast the adaptation goes depends on the connection you have established with your child. You should talk about this as well. Sometimes kids cry even in the best kindergartens. However, teachers should help with the adaptation - consult on the procedure of saying ‘goodbye’ every morning, help your child feel comfortable and inspire them in general. This way the child has more chances to quickly adapt to a new life, place and schedule. Your cooperation and communication with a teacher is essential, because the child will only feel happy when both sides of the process share the same views on how he or she should develop and be brought up. Any discord in your views, rules and approaches lead to some kids experiencing stress; others might manipulate this, and sometimes it leads to consequences that adults find difficult to deal with.

 Headmaster’s role should not be underestimated.

There are many things a nursery teacher is responsible for, but when it comes to a headmaster, he controls everything: from a cleaning lady and a team to kitchen supplies, procured materials, design and everything else. It depends on the headmaster, thus, the way he distribute money on the necessities. It’s vital to understand how he or she is involved in the pedagogical and educational process.

 Sport equipment and physical activity – next aspect to consider.

Children are active, so they easily get tired. Thus, a balance of all types of exercises is important, and children need a change of activity – a time to just run around and change scenery. It’s good when there are gyms and studios; however, spending the whole day inside is quite tiresome. Quality infrastructure and a coach are prerequisites of not only physical and emotional health: with this in place, you don’t have to take your child to different coteries after the kindergarten. A swimming pool is a perfect inuring practice that releases tension.  Learning to swim is a plus also. Parents should, however, check the quality of the water, floor safety, changing rooms and dryers.

Last but not least - meal service.

There is now catering allowed in kindergartens, though I don’t consider it to be a healthy food. Find out how balanced is the meal, whether it contains additives, and how the food is delivered. There is nothing wrong in asking to see the kitchen. However, they should not let you in without you wearing a robe, boot covers and a cap. By asking to see the kitchen you can make sure whether chefs wear their caps, and the place is clean and organized.

Pay attention to product suppliers. Sometimes it’s kindergarten’s fault that they take over-frizzed and low-quality meat. The meal should be balanced, tasty, it should smell good, and preferably not include any purchased juices, cookies and other unhealthy products. Etiquette and serving is important. And so is the manner adults eat.

Good luck with your choice!

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