When asked, many parents will tell you they did not take their child to the first nursery school that came to their mind. In fact, they may not have even taken them to the one near their home or even the one that came as option three.
That is the hustle parents go through while choosing the best nursery school for their child.
What makes it even more challenging is that the child is usually at an age where they need motivation to learn and a bad learning environment can make them either love or hate school.
In fact Herbert Alinaitwe, the director of studies at St. Kizito Nursery and Primary School in Kampala, says a nursery school will determine who your child turns out to be in future through the values imparted in them at the start of their education journey.
Although pre-school is not compulsory, it is important. But at three years; which is usually the start age, how do you know what best suits your child.
Because of distance-related hurdles, Rose Isaale, a mother of three, had to start her three-year-old son at the nursery school near her home although it was not her preferred choice.
“I took my first son at three years to a nursery school far from home. I trusted that since it had a school bus, he would be safe. I did not consider the fatigue that would come with him travelling that distance daily. He always came back tired and slept off. With time, I lost touch with him,” she says.
Seeing as the distance was doing more harm than good to her child, Isaale had to transfer him to the school near her home where she is able to drop him off and pick him up.
“School shuttles have a tendency of delaying the children on the way. If possible, it is better the parent gets a school that is not far from their home to save the child from the daily tiresome journey,” she says.
Patrick Okiror is a single father who lives with his daughter. Sometimes, he says, he gets busy and cannot pick her from school so she has to find her way back home on her own some days. He, therefore, says his daughter goes to a school that is not in the urban centre where she risks being knocked by speeding boda bodas or bump into idle gangs.
“I stay in Namugongo but could not find a nursery school of my choice. A friend directed me to a school in Naalya whose status satisfied my desire,” says Jane Esther Aine.
Aine says she can never take her child to a school that has just opened, at least it should have been in existence for about three to five years. “Sometimes new schools collapse and it is hard to determine their teaching standard because you cannot trace children who attended it,” she says.
Alinaitwe, however, says it may be difficult to meet all the needs of the parents but as schools, they try to meet some of them.
He says nursery school-going children are fragile to deal with, so school management should care to find out the parent’s priorities before they make some decisions.
“In case the school caters for both nursery and primary pupils, the school has to make sure they are separated to allow the little children have a noise-free environment and mingle with agemates they think alike,” Alinaitwe advises.
In the end, what is important is that a child continues to thrive and develop; socially, cognitively, emotionally, and physically in whatever environment a parent chooses.
Room. Social skills and interaction with others are key. For some children, a pre-school is the perfect place for this; although others may get opportunities for mixing and socialising with friends while at home.
Material. Check out different settings -playgroups, nurseries, are they equipped with enough play things for children to engage in in their leisure time.
Choice. Listen to what others may tell you about the nursery school but make it a point to see for yourself. Visit, look at the other children and see if you can envisage your child there.