The perfect preschool

I can’t find my perfect preschool. I found good ones, but none that had everything I wanted. Here’s a wishlist:

  1. All rounded curriculum – exposure to a wide variety of areas on top of the core skills of literacy, maths and self help such as drama, art, music, sports and dance through a combination of properly trained full time teachers and well chosen enrichment class.
  2. Balanced and organic meals – A sample menu would be breakfast at home, berries with yoghurt for mid morning snack, grilled fish served with quinoa, carrots and brocolli for lunch, wholemeal biscuits and milk for afternoon snack, mixture of brown and white rice cooked with purple cabbage and served with chicken and spinach. Everything should be (i) organic (or wild caught and low mercury varieties for fish), (ii) in good proportion ie roughly 1:1:1 for meat:fiber:carbs (opinions differ for what is good proportion but I’m not THAT fussed as long as its not 90% carbs and 10% other things as is the case in most preschools) and (iii) a bit of each colour – notice there’s green, red, purple and orange in one day’s sample menu.
  3. Fun – school should be centered on all things fun – singing, dancing, art, freeplay, stories, sports and the like. In the process learning points in the areas of literacy, knowledge of numbers, general knowledge, independence morals etc can and should be weaved in. In the older years though (years 5 and 6) there should be a gradual transition towards a more traditional classroom setting so the children can be eased into primary school.
  4. Confidence building – opportunity for failure and performance. The teachers should set up activities that the children can complete independently, failing in the process but laughing about it and going on. There should also be plenty of opportunity for show and tell, performances and the like for the children to learn to present themselves confidently to the public.
  5. Social skills – conducive environment for bonding. Too much individual assignments or worksheet is a bad thing for preschools. The children should spend plenty of time outdoors at the playground where they have the opportunity to play hopscotch with friends or help each other over obstacles, or in indoor play where they can pretend cook for each other etc.
  6. Linguistic skills – For all teachers linguistic accuracy is key. They must speak the language which they instruct in well. This includes teachers who are teaching art or music or seemingly non-linguistic subjects. This is the age where children soak up everything like a sponge so it is key that the teachers speak well, with the correct grammer and pronunciation. The option of taking up more languages such as french, japanese, korean, bahasa indonesia spanish etc is also good.
  7. Facilities – there should be ample outdoor space for children to run about and enjoy themselves, with equipment that will allow them to safely climb, crawl and tumble around according to their abilities. Each classroom should also be carefully thought out and designed – the music room fitted with full length mirrors and proper flooring for dance and music making, the art room well stocked with art materials such as recycled bottles, sticks, pebbles, all sorts of paints, colours, chalks and just lots of odds and ends that can inspire creativity.
  8. Culture – In my case it would be Chinese culture that I hope my children will be rooted in. That includes celebration of Chinese festivals and knowledge of the meanings behind them, knowledge of Chinese classics such as 弟子规, 论语 and 三字经 and some simple poetry. Its probably too much to expect preschoolers to know anything more than that, or to even really know these in depth. But exposure from young is definitely good. Too many Singaporean’s only knowledge of their cultural roots are the foods associated with festivals. I’ve heard many either accidentally or ignorantly say 月饼节 and 粽子节 rather than 中秋节 and 端午节. It will probably be a matter of time before I hear Chinese New Year being referred to as 肉干节 if we do not make efforts to preserve our roots.

I’m asking for too much, I hear you say. Of course I am, partly because the above is my ideal and everyone’s idea of perfect is different.

I’m curious what do other parents look for in a preschool. Does a preschool along the lines of what I described here appeal to mums reading this blog? Will you send your children to a school like this? Is there any important attribute that I’ve missed?