Do a safety check before you decide on a preschool for your child.
By Amita Bhardwaj
Early childhood, that phase when the child is curious to explore just about everything around him or her, is also a time that calls for extreme caution to protect the child from any injuries. Safety is one of the major factors that go into the choice of a preschool as a child takes his or her first tottering steps to independence. Here are 10 ways to tell if you are making the right choice:
Let’s face it, sending a two-year-old to preschool is like sending a large piece of your heart away from yourself. The one thing that can make a big difference to your peace of mind is the availability of a live CCTV feed.
Pro tip: The school having CCTV cameras is not the same as having operational cameras, so ensure that you check that you indeed have access to a live feed. This does not mean that you have to become a helicopter parent and watch every move of the child, but that the safety of the child isn’t compromised.
Access control is the other significant aspect to watch out for. Remember if it is very easy for you to enter the school as a visitor, chances are that the security isn’t good enough. Besides a security guard, do look out for other access control system (finger print/pin) that have been put in place. Also enquire about the kind of background checks that the staff has to go through.
While it may sound like a logistical hassle to ensure that whoever is coming to pick up the child carries the necessary authorisation, it is the single most important factor to watch out for. The school not having enough checks before handing over the child can be a potential security hazard.
State of school buses
If your child is going to opt for school transport, checking out the state of the school buses and whether or not they have necessary permits becomes important. Besides being well-maintained, they also need to be equipped with first-aid boxes, fire extinguishers and attendants.
It is important to walk around the classrooms to ensure that the rooms are child-proof. This means watching out for aspects such as electrical sockets, child-friendly doors and more. It is also prudent to check out the toys that the child will spend the better part of the day with. It is imperative that the toys are age appropriate and have lead-free paint. Similarly, all art material needs to be non-toxic.
With falls and tumbles being a part of childhood, one other thing to look for, not just in the classrooms but in other areas of the school, include child-safe flooring. Cushioned flooring, which is gentle on falls, can go a long way in keeping the child protected.
Not only does the school need to have requisite medical facilities, such as a resident nurse, a doctor on call, it also needs to have the necessary tie-up with the nearest hospital in case of any emergencies.
Fire and evacuation
While you can look around for fire extinguishers, do ask for aspects such as an evacuation plan and whether the staff is adequately trained to handle calamities such as a fire or even other natural calamities such as an earthquake, etc.
Non-access to hazardous areas
With recent incidents where children have access to hazardous areas such as open water tanks, it is important that you look around the school yourself to check that any drains, bore-wells, tanks, etc are well covered and do not become potential accident sites.
Besides ensuring the child’s physical security, you also of course need to watch out for your child’s emotional wellbeing while at school. Do take enough time to discuss what the school’s overall philosophy is and whether that matches with your own parenting style. Corporal punishment of any kind, for example, should be a strict no-no.
In checking for all these aspects, remember that physically visiting the place and discussing any concerns that you have work far better than relying on a standard script that you may be told over the phone.
Here’s to your child’s safety and to you being able to enjoy these golden years!
(The writer is Director-Curriculum with Footprints Childcare, a play school and day care chain.)
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