Your child's first day of school will be one of the most important days of their life! Your child is going to be excited yet nervous and you will be nervous, excited, and worried about your child. West End and Highlands Montessori offer the following suggestions to help prepare your child for preschool:
Prepare Your Child to sUCCEED
Talk to your child about preschool leading up to their first day at school. Drive by the school a few times and arrange to take your child on a visit to the school so they can become more familiar with the environment. Let them help with the purchase of their school clothing, their new shoes, and a new school bag. The more involved in the process they are, the more relaxed they will feel.
Remember change is part of life as are transitions. Scaffolding these changes (breaking them into bite-sized chunks) is a life skill called critical thinking and part of the responsibility of healthy parenting. If you need some coaching or support with this skill we have in-house coaching that is open to parents - whether your child is enrolled at our school or not. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.
Talk to Your Child
Discuss the positive aspects of school and find out what your child's expectations and worries are. Explain to them what their new routine will be like and how it differs from their daily routine at home. To help your child feel more comfortable, you and other family members can share memories of your own schooling and what you remember most fondly about the experience.
Review the Calendar
Talk to your child about what days of the week they will be attending school and what activities they can expect on these specific days. Also, speak to your child about special activities that they will be taking part in throughout the school year.
If your child has never been in a preschool setting before, they may feel some separation anxiety. To help your child feel more secure, do not allow your child to see that you have any reservations about leaving them. It is important to your child that you trust our staff and our school and it is also a good idea to allow your child to walk into our school rather than carrying them and to keep your goodbyes short.
Ideally, children who have been prepared in advance will experience little drama when arriving at our school. Chances are, you will be amazed by how adaptable your child can be when entering a classroom eager to meet new friends and learn new things. And also plan for ebbs and flow in their interest and emotions. This is a natural part of life and learning which is forever ongoing. We ask you to consider this by framing new things as exciting opportunities that you will embark on with your child every time your family travels, makes new friends and for special events like entering elementary school.
Choosing a Preschool
Choosing a preschool is an important decision to make for your child's future. There are many options available but if you are specifically looking for a Montessori preschool there are a few things you should know.
The word "Montessori" is not patented, so unfortunately anyone can use the name for any reason or purpose. Hence the use of the word does not guarantee a quality child care facility. Many schools that use the name are not familiar with the Montessori Method and do not use authentic Montessori equipment. Some key features of an authentic Montessori school are:
The Feel Good Quality
It is important to look for a preschool that has a warm and friendly atmosphere as well as being stimulating to a child. When making your decision, it is useful to observe the children while attending the school. If the preschool is filled with unhappy children who look like they'd rather be anywhere else, it's a good sign that you should take your business elsewhere. A great school will invite you to become part of their community and encourage parents to participate, volunteer, and accompany their children on field trips. For many families the willingness of the operator to accommodate parenting customs, family schedules as well as a child's personality quirks is also much appreciated!
A preschool should be flexible within reason but it is very important that it has clearly established rules for staff, students, and parents. In Alberta the operating practises of all early childcare and out-of-school care facilities are governed and enforced by the provincial government. These regulatory rules cover everything from hours of operation to emergency procedures to ensure the safety of all children. West End and Highlands Montessori not only follows these rules but has also achieved the Best Practises Highest Standards of Accreditation awarded by the AB Government.
A well thought out curriculum stimulates child development and also makes daily life more fun. The best schools are those that include plenty of time for activity, reading, socializing, art, individual and group activities, in addition to lots of one-on-one learning opportunities. A great Montessori school should provide a child with ample chances to try new things. The curriculum will be regularly adjusted to match the abilities and the skill levels of the children. Montessori preschools have specialized educational philosophies and encourage independence through a wide range of activities.
A Qualified and Caring Staff
It is the law in Alberta that daycare and early childhood educators must be properly trained and government certified in several areas such as human development, CPR, etc. This is an advantage over unlicensed childcare options. Good Montessori teachers are warm, well-educated, responsible, enthusiastic and very well prepared. It is key to match your parenting values to the child development philosophies and practises of the facility you choose.