Saturday, March 29, 2008

Choosing a daycare & pre-school

(This post by Sandeepa)

It has been two years since I went out in search for a daycare/preschool for S and so my memories are a bit dusty. Remember momnesia ?

Anyway it was early 2006, that I started S with her first daycare/preschool. She was 2 years and a month or so by then. Could speak pretty well and I knew would tell me in words if she disliked specific things about the daycare, so this made it a little easier for me.

1. On the outset, I had decided to go with one of the 3 major chains in my area. They were The Goddard, The Kiddie Academy and The Kinder Care. They had good quality control policies, certain structures they had to meet and a body that ensured that these were followed. Also a friend who is a teacher at a private, independent daycare had told me if I chose an independent or a local daycare I should research them more thoroughly. I was not sure how, so decided to go with the chains

2. I wanted a facility which would have flex part time hours.

3. Since this would be her first time S would be staying outside of home I wanted the facility to be near my/D’s workplace, so either of us could go and check on her. Also at that time our workplace was a comfortable commute and so it was ok for S to commute too.

4. Next, I wanted the school to be spacious, the classrooms to be cheerful, with windows and lots of natural light, the school to have their own grounds & play area, the school to be clean, clean and again clean, the teacher to be warm, smiling, friendly.

5. Security was another thing. We ruled out schools adjacent to shopping plazas or facing too much traffic

6. Of the chains, Goddard did not have flex part time hours. Kiddie Academy did but was not near workplace. I saw one more school and though they satisfied a lot of the criterion, the teacher of the class S would go to had heavily made up eyes which put me off. Yeah I am pretty shallow that way.

7. Just beside D’s workplace and across mine there was this daycare/preschool which was not Kinder Care but under the same KLC facility. It was known as the Prodigy Child Development Centers. The school met criterion 2, 3, 4 and 5. It wa spart of the corporate center and there were colleagues with kids there. I particularly liked the teacher of the class S would go to. She was very warm, friendly and always smiling.
They also had their own kitchen and provided cooked meals.

Good Points

I really loved the class S went to till she was 2 years 7 months
The lead teacher was really nice and I owe her big time for taking the bigger share of potty training on her shoulders.
The teachers were very helpful with getting S adjusted, helping her eat first few days.
They encouraged the fact that we did not speak any English at home and I wanted to keep it that way.
I was overall pretty happy with the center

Bad Points

The franchise did not require owner on the premises like Goddard does, so admin was a little lax.
The next class that S was moved to at 2years7months because most of her close buddies were moved to was a bit more rigid to my liking. The teacher of this class was pretty strict about writing skills and structured learning which I did not feel was necessary at that age or even for the other 3 year olds.


From 2 year11 month to 3 year2 months, S enjoyed lazy, relaxed times at home with her grandparents. No school and great fun.


The next school I chose was a pretty new franchise of Goddard that was closer to home as my commute was longer.

Good Points

The particular center being pretty new was very bright, cheerful, clean, blah, blah.
Last year they offered quiet a few activity classes like karate, soccer etc. at an additional rate within the school premises and hours.
Since S was older and more responsible now, I didn’t worry about eating, sleeping and those kind of things, so there is not much I can say about that.
Learning is very teacher oriented but I think that works well for the kind of kid S is.
Since the owner is always on the premises, I can tell her if something does not suit me, she tries to resolve.

Bad Points

This year I do not see them offering any of those extra classes :(
They do not have a kitchen and I did not like the catered food much. This year they do not have the catering option and so food has to be always home lunch.
I would like learning to be a bit more exploratory, more of things to do with nature which I don’t see much.

Conclusion in General

1.Choosing the right daycare/pre-school depends on a lot of issues like proximity, hours, holidays etc. if both parents are working outside home. Thus, though I wanted to try out a Montessori for S once she was 3, the other factors weighed the scales against it, primary being the proximity.

2. With the chains a fair amount depends on the particular franchise.

3. A lot depends on the teacher of the particular class your child is attending.

4. With the centers which have a good reputation, there is at least no gross negligence or abuse

5. Spending some time in the classroom for a couple of days and observing other children in the class gives a fair idea of how the teacher interacts etc.

Since S is a December born and our township has a cut off in October, S is going to Kindergarten at Goddard too from September this year. I am not sure what I am going to do next year though. Are there any other kids at DMC with similar issues, i.e. school has a cutoff in October but the child is November or December born, what did you do ?


scribblermom said...

I don't know of any cut offs for school admission in my area. Since Genie is born in June, she will be age appropriate for the class. She will be in same school (her current playschool) mostly till Nursery or Junior KG. We will start researching of big schools in our area mostly based on the same factors mentioned by you.

Hey anyone know of good ICSE / SSC schools in Andheri East, Mumbai, India. I do know few, but i would like some reviews / feedback from other parents or friends of friends of friends, etc.

Kodi's Mom said...

Sandeepa, thanks for a balanced and well presented post. I see a lot of similarities in our approach - criteria wise and the final conclusions.
as for the cutoff date, K is in the same boat...sept 1st is the cutoff here and his bday sept 30th! we still have another year at least to handle this, but would love to get opinions on what some of the other moms are doing.

scribblermom said...

Genie's first birthday party was thrown by her Nana as per our tradition, and it was a huge one... we just had few games, but no entertainer/clown, etc was hired for the occasion. Two months down the line, her 2nd birthday is approaching. we still undecided about throwing a party for her. Shopping for return gift is fun and challenging as it has to be within a limited budget and it should be useful to the kid... so hunting for the right gift is fun

karmickids said...

Sandeepa, the batch for the brat is Jan 2003 to Dec 2003, and he's oct end born. And he is as it is slow developmentally and at the bottom end of the class age wise, which is added tough for him (not that he cares).I have been pleading with the school to detain him for a year to allow him to catch up, lets see what they decide this year...

scribblermom: Hiranandani is good they say...

harsha said...

I was searching for preschools for my kid and found this page, liked your article.
I'm still not clear if there are any public schools/programs are available for children aged between 3 to 5. I was told that 3yr old kid can go to only private school and not the public. One of the private school in my area is highly costly 800$/month.
So if you could tell me is it true that no public schooling for 3-5 yrs ?
Thanks a lot.