Q: My kid is turning 3. What should I look for when I’m enrolling my child in a nursery?

A: When it comes to choosing a nursery, always pick the best since a child’s learning happens the fastest from 0 to 5 years of age. There are a few standard yardsticks that can help you decide on a nursery that will best suit your child’s needs and contribute to his/her holistic growth.

The true resource of a preschool is its qualified and trained workforce. Therefore, a very important factor is well trained and qualified staff who are caring and understand quality. The nursery staff must actively engage with parents and involve them actively in matters related to their children’s activities and development. Look for nurseries that offer regular internal and external training to the teachers and encourage parent-school partnerships and seminars for effective teaching and learning.

Parents should also look for high-quality child care (the kind that mirrors parenting, provides an educational environment which stimulates the child's critical thinking) to enhance a child’s cognitive and linguistic development. Alongside, focus in finding a quality environment that offers strong policies, procedures, assessments and standardised reports. Quality certification and accreditation of a nursery has a positive effect in children’s overall learning. My doctoral research has found significant correlations in highly qualified settings and overall child development.

Ensure that the environment guarantees safety and hygiene. This means that the learning tools including toys are age appropriate and safe and the nursery infrastructure and architecture does not have ‘danger zones’. Similarly, in terms of hygiene, ensure that the place is clean and as eco-friendly as possible.

A very important point is the curriculum offered, since it is the most important tool in preparation of the child for mainstream schooling. Look for nurseries that have clear objectives in the curriculum and have linked assessments for individualised learning of the child. Children respond to fun methods of learning, so nurseries that teach using play and creative thinking as a tool are a better option. Many pre-schools will offer attractive facilities and plenty of staff, but the school that focuses on curriculum and actually promises to track the child’s development is the one that will take special interest in the day-to-day learning and ensure early learning goals are met.

Vandana Gandhi is CEO and founder of British Orchard Nursery. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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