MiC’s Top Tips – How to Choose a Nursery / Pre-School / Kindergarten

Looking back on the early years of parenting we remember the process of chosing a nursery as being the first really big, challenging decision. Two things made it so daunting: handing our children over to complete strangers and, from an academic perspective, the long-term impact such education could have on schooling choices later down the road.

So here’s a list of our top tips on how to find the best nursery for your and your child’s needs – hopefully it will make your decision a bit easier!

Keep in mind that you need to break the task down into small chunks, and then it will seem less daunting.

Define your family standards

Start with brainstorming all of the things that are important to you as a parent in your daily life and also, within your parenting philosophy. Then, write down everything that’s important to your child. These thoughts will help you at the later stage of decision making, before that final choice is due.

Set the frame

What are your preferences with regards to:

  • teaching language
  • location / distance from your house
  • opening hours
  • cost
  • curriculum followed
  • teacher credentials
  • staff credentials
  • school/premises accreditation

These points will set the cornerstones for your research.

Do your homework

Get familiar with the common terms in early years education and the educational institutions in Cyprus. Find out about:

  • Montessori Approach
  • Waldorf Approach
  • Child-centered
  • Teacher-led
  • Day Care
  • Public School – Pro-Dimotiki
  • Private Primary Schools with nursery classes
  • Once you’ve done this you can proceed by elimination, it will narrow down the options.

Find it on Google

Based on the choice you made with regards to the type of education you favour, research what’s on offer in your part of the island. Use the internet, look for reviews and feedback and make a shortlist of places you are interested in. Do not rely on word-of-mouth alone, as every child is different. What suits the child of your friend’s cousin may not be the ideal setting for your own kid. Keep an open mind.

Go see for yourself

Now comes the fun stuff! Time to visit the the nurseries and places you have identified on your wishlist. As you’ll be doing the visits both through your own and your child’s eyes, trying to figure it all out can be overwhelming and the new environment will be distracting.

Remember the brainstorming from our first top tip ‘Define your family standards’? Prepare a list of questions based on those thoughts and take it with you.

Make sure you visit during opening hours while children are present, as it is the best time to get a feel for the nursery’s atmosphere. Go again at a different time of day and maybe even pop in for a surprise visit before you make your final decision.

If not already included in your set of questions, we suggest you also cover:

  • how do they discipline a misbehaving child and how they deal with conflict between kids
  • how they deal with a shy / introverted child?
  • bilingual kids? Approach? Mix of nationalities in the classroom?
  • how much free-play time do the kids have / what is their ‘schedule’ like
  • ask to meet the person that would be in charge of your child
  • if applicable, how are the nappy changing facilities kept clean (area disinfected after each nappy or just once a day?)
  • is there an area for younger children to sleep, if necessary?
  • do they offer meals and snacks (and are the kids encouraged to wash their hands before eating / after playing outside?)
  • what is their policy with regards to food allergies
  • is the place clean and safe (you’d be surprised… check the safety of the outside play equipment and gates; windows in the classrooms; the front door – and their policy on child-collection etc etc)

As a good starting point, here is the link to the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture website with the approved list of schools and other useful information.

So there we have it! We hope that these top tips help you find the most suitable nursery, pre-school, day care or kindergarten for your child here in Cyprus.

Feel free to let us know how you got on and if you are happy with the choice you have made, comments and feedback are always welcome!

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