or playschool as it is popularly called is a growing concept in India.
It is often seen as a toddler's first step towards mainstream
Preschools are often portrayed as a kindergarten readiness centre. They have activities varying from just encouraging children to adjust to a structured environment and become independent to a heavier curriculum where they are taught and prepared for admission to kindergarten.
Almost all children between the ages 2-3 years are enrolled in a preschool. In fact so much that admission forms to kindergarten ask for information on the child's 'previous' school. Some parents see the preschool as a place where their child can mingle and learn to get along with other children
their age. For others it is an alternative to day care. There are still
others whose single aim is to gain an entry into the city's most sought
But does admission to a preschool
require any skills on the part of the toddler? "This is the first time
my child is entering a school. She will learn what is suitable for her
age there." Says Priya, a resident of Kochi, where there is a multitude
of playschools. But is it the duty of the teachers at the preschool to teach your child even the basics?
Anu (name changed), who runs a preschool, is of the opinion that "Everyone wants to send his or her child to a preschool. Some parents don't even wait until their child is two years old. These children are not even toilet trained. Some cannot speak. Their parents expect us to teach them the basics." For such children the experience of a preschool
becomes stressful. Should they be put through this for the sake of
gaining admission into a good kindergarten or to give you some free
time at home or work?
What you can do
To avoid putting your child through stress, make sure that you prepare your child for such an environment.
Your child is ready for a play school when he can sit in one place for
about ten minutes. This can be while listening to you, doing an
activity or playing with a toy.
Another readiness indicator is toilet training.
It may not matter so much if he has graduated to the regular toilet
seat as most preschool are equipped for such young children. What matters is if he can say when he needs to go.
A third indicator is your child's ability to eat solids on his own.
This will not only make your child feel confident when he eats along
with friends but also saves the teacher's or the helper's time.
A last indicator is when your child shows interest in doing things on his own. This begins by the age of two and a half years.
"We get a mixed group of children,"
says Anu. "Some are only two and a half years old but speak and
communicate clearly. Others are three but need help to eat. They tend
to run around while they eat as they do in their homes and they tend to
miss out on activity time. Parents seem to confuse a preschool with a day care facility." She adds, "We want the children to spend quality time in a safe and friendly learning environment where they can build their self confidence and self esteem. These are experiences that remain with them throughout their life."
Paying a bit more attention to your child's growing needs will tell you if he or she is ready for preschool. This way you can ensure your child has a stress-free learning experience.
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- The Indiaparenting Team