There are two pre-school systems in South Africa: one is funded by the government and regulated provincially, and the other is independent and run by communities or private bodies.
Both the government and private programmes consist of two main components: pre-grade R and Grade R programmes. Pre-Grade R programmes are meant for children between 0-4 years of age, and Grade R (Reception Year) programmes are meant for 5-6 year-old children. Lessons focus on language, mathematics, life skills, technology, arts and culture.
Follow this link to find a pre-school in your area: Pre-schools in South Africa
There are a number of things to consider when deciding to start pre-school.
The first thing to consider is that it is useful to attend a nearby pre-school. If you have to travel long distances, this can often be tiring and inconvenient for your family. You should ask around locally for advice on near-by pre-schools. Word of mouth recommendations are always excellent and will give you a good insight into the running of the centre.
Secondly, it is important to consider if your child is ready to start pre-school. It is vital to visit the pre-school, preferably without your child at first so you can assess it for yourself. You can then discuss if this is a suitable time to enrol your child with the classroom teachers. Below are some things to consider when evaluating its suitability for your family.
Ask for a copy of their curriculum and their rules and regulations.
Ask if they have a programme you can have a copy of. This should outline what the weekly focus will be. This will enable you to discuss things with your child at home as well.
Ask if they have an open door policy.
Check the centre itself. Is it roomy and well lit? Inspect the toilets and changing areas to ensure they are clean and well run. Check to see the fencing is secure.
Are there a range of toys for the children to play with? Ask if they regularly cleaned.
Is there a parent notice-board to keep you informed of events? Or can they e-mail you?
What is the ratio of teachers to children?
This is a good time to observe the behaviour of the children and the staff as well. Does it seem relaxed and happy? How do the staff respond to a child who is distressed?
On your second visit it is recommended that you take your child along and see how they both react and interact during your visit. Encourage the teacher to give you feedback as well if they think your child is ready to begin pre-school. This will enable you to make a fully informed decision about if it is the right time to enrol or not.
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