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Choosing a Pre-School or Montessori

Most young children are ready for more structured playgroup sessions at around three years of age. Sending your child to Pre/Play-school or Montessori is a big step towards independence, both for them and for you. However, don’t feel under pressure to send your child to a pre-school environment if you feel that they are not ready. Some children are independent creatures by nature whiles others are more timid and may take longer to become comfortable with the idea.

There are a number of different types of pre-school enviroments which you can consider for your child.

Whether you choose a Playschool of Montessori for your child, the following are some helpful tips to assist you in choosing the best care for your child:

  • Visit the pre-school personally and preferably unannounced.
  • Observe the layout, décor and standard of equipment in the pre-school. Is there sufficient space to allow both sitting down activities and more active free play.
  • Are there sufficient toilets and washing facilities for the number of children – are they clean?
  • Note the general contentment (or not) of the children and the interaction and courtesy of the staff
  • Seek recommendations and feedback from other parents who have used the pre-school

The following are some questions you might ask:
  • What qualifications do staff hold. Ask to see a list of staff names and their qualifications and their garda vetting.
  • Has the pre-school been approved by the required authorities
  • Ask for a copy of the service's most recent HSE preschool inspection report. You are entitled to see the report ifyour child is in the care of the preschool or creche.
  • Is the building/room safe and well kept (especially if it is used for other purposes)
  • How many children do you care for.
  • Are the children well supervised – ratio of supervisors to children
  • Can you talk me through the learning and developmental activities my child will take part in.
  • How will I find out how well my child is settling in.
  • Will there be any type of daily/weekly/monthly record of what they’ve done.
  • How will outings be supervised.
  • If food is provided by the school – a sample of a normal weeks menu/diet. Ask to see where the food is prepared.

Depending where you live there may be considerable demand for pre-school places. Make sure you enquire sufficiently early to ensure that you have secured a place when your child is ready to attend.