When it comes to education for under 5s, there’s a surprisingly large choice of options available. If you’re looking for pre-school education for your child, it can be a bit of a minefield, so here we look at the available options and the questions you may need to ask when assessing the possibilities.
The various types of pre-school education can help children’s early learning considerably. Using both creative and physical play, early education sessions will help young children learn new skills, gain new experiences, learn to build relationships and socialise with other children. There’s a variety of different types of pre-school education for under 5s available in the UK, each with their own benefits. The main types of provider you’ll come across include:
- Pre-school playgroups.
- Reception classes at schools that take pre-school children.
- Nursery classes.
- Day nurseries.
- Nursery schools.
- Accredited and recognised childminders.
- Children’s centres.
Every parent wants to find the best learning environment for their child and wants their child to be happy and safe. It’s therefore not surprising that there are a lot of things to consider when you’re trying to find the perfect type of pre-school education for your child.
Don’t forget that children aged three and four are eligible for 12.5 hours of free early learning each week, so some of their time at playgroup or pre-school can count towards this, providing the centre or provider meets the government standards.
What To Look For
When you’re weighing up the possibilities and deciding where to send your child for pre-school learning and education, you’ll no doubt have questions to ask each early learning provider. Asking for confirmation is a good way of getting a clear picture and can help you make a decision, so don’t be afraid to ask away.
Some of the questions you might like to ask include:
- What activities do the children do?
- How many children regularly attend?
- How do you organise the average day or session?
- What resources and equipment do you have to support children’s learning?
- How are activities planned and organised to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage?
- Do you provide any additional help for children aged under 5 with special needs?
- How do staff manage children’s behaviour, especially when they misbehave?
- What qualifications and experience do the staff have?
- How long have you been operating?
- Are there outdoor and indoor play areas for children?
- Is there a period of rest incorporated into the day?
- What time do sessions start and finish?
Most early learning centres will be happy for you to go along and observe the children in action. Have a good look around the premises, so you can see how clean they are and what the learning environment is like, and try and gain insight into how the teachers or staff interact with the children.
You should be able to get a good feeling about whether a learning environment is likely to be suitable for your child. Don’t forget that personal recommendations can be good too, so try and speak to other parents and find out where their children go and what they’ve heard about certain places.