Test the early childhood center you are choosing for your child…a unique new senses test for parents to ensure they are choosing a quality care kindergarten/daycare for their child.
It’s that time of the year as parents make a frantic rush to enroll kids in the ‘best’ preschool or daycare. Some make a mad rush to remove their kids from an ‘unsatisfying’ one and reenroll at another ‘best’ center. So are parents looking for? Is it ambience, price, furniture, air conditioning, proximity? Well, all these put together will only impact 20% of the child’s socio-emotional and over all development. So instead of only the 20% lets help you focus on the other 80%, use this ‘senses test’ and ‘taste’ the center with your senses and experience the other 80% which is teacher strength, curriculum, teaching-learning practices, experiences of the child, emotional and social development and stress free learning. After all your child uses all 5 senses to experience too.
The first test- Use your eyes- and look for ……
· Check for Peeling paint on walls and furniture, it means that they are not bothered about safety of kids as kids can touch, scratch, and eat the paint.
· Look for cobwebs. Cobwebs mean there are spiders and spiders would only build cobwebs if there were insects, so that means there are insects at that center which is a result of lack of cleanliness.
· Look at the fingernails of all the staff. No long nails and chipped nail polish on the staff, all the staff, especially those that will serve food or look after the hygiene of your child. Chipped nail polish can go into your child’s food and harm your child and long, sharp nails can hurt, scratch the delicate skin of toddlers.
· Check the mops, (bacteria breeding ground) mops tell you how they clean the vomit, urine, and potty from the floors. Well, many young toddlers are not yet toilet trained so if the center has carpets…god forbid. And if they are using the same mops to clean the floors, OMG! And yet another horror, many centers use the same floor mops to clean the tabletops. Ask, are the bais trained to wipe vomit, potty from floors with paper, then put disinfectant and wipe and then mop. The same mop will not be used for other work, and see separate cloths for tables etc.
· And look at flannel board displays, you should see ‘children’s voices’ even in the displays. There should be drawings, paintings, worksheets, and loads of photos of activities. It all points to a great learning experience immersed in the 8 intelligences.
The second test- Use your ears and hear……
· The sounds at the center. Are they about furniture clanging, teachers shouting, and screaming instructions to ayahs. Children giggling, talking, enjoying or singing should be the sounds you hear.
· Are kids constantly crying? A good center ensures that crying kids get settled within a short span of time by consulting and coordinating with the family.
· Can you hear adults constantly ‘shushing’ shhh…. a child or reprimanding them, ‘don’t run, walk in a line’. When staff shout at any center, it means the atmosphere is extremely formal and teachers are not trained in positive ways to get appropriate behavior.
The third test- Use your touch and…..
· Touch surfaces around the center, are you getting dust on your fingertips? If yes, its because it is not cleaned regularly.
· Check how the staff touch the kids , is their grip very harsh? Or is it gentle?
· Check how the toilet staff takes care of the kids, especially how they wash when a child has to be cleaned after potty.
· Touch the edges of furniture, are they too sharp? Furniture should be well rounded.
· Now a touch test for your child- what kind of toys are there for your child to touch? Will your child get a multisensory experience? Are there soft, hard, plastic, wood, toys. Toys to build, toys to play, puppets, and role-play toys. Toys to dance, toys to exercise with and toys to share?
The fourth test- Use your tongue…voice. And…
· Ask what the qualifications of the center staff are. How many of them are trained teachers. They should not only trained in how to teach but also how to handle children with different needs, temperaments, and personalities.
· How many hours of training do they get regularly in a week. Every week they should get trained for 2-3 hours
· Who trains them? Do they have educationists on board?
· Ask about the curriculum used by the center. Ask about the educational philosophy.
· What are their safety and security guidelines. Do they have a safety and emergencies docket, and a training based on it for all staff?
· Do they have a fire safety drill?
· What about good touch- bad touch? Are children told about good touch bad touch? How?
· How are children assessed? With a simple A,B,C grading or with a detailed observation that will help you understand your child’s stage of development.
The fifth test…Use your nose and ….
· Smell the center. Is it smelling of food, urine? Because young children are sensitive to smells.
· Does it smell of strong bleach? Bad. As heavy chemicals are bad for kids.
· Does it smell of fresh wall paint? Bad for kids.
· Does it smell of pesticide? Bad for kids.
· Does it smell of the local gutter smell. Many centers do, which makes kids crankier. Smells have a direct impact on kids learning and focus.
· How often do they service their air conditioners? As kids can fall sick with subserviced ones. It should be done each month.
All of the above have an impact on your child’s brain development as their brain development is mainly based on sensory stimulation. This can result in children becoming cranky, frustrated and thus impacting their social skills, emotional, language, and cognitive skills. So it makes great sense to ‘taste’ your child’s center with your senses to ensure the right nurturing and stimulation for your child especially in the crucial brain development years.
Choose well for your child after all the first 6 years are when 98% of the brain develops.