Monisha Sen has just finished the admission process for her one and a half year old, and heaves a sigh of relief!
It's that time of the year again, when mothers of babies who turned one last year are going through schools and admissions. For the uninitiated, these tots will be in playschool now. Yes, by the time they are one and a half, come June, these little ones will be in school for two hours every day, accompanied by water bottles, snacks and a change of diaper.
I have seen parents waiting for the post, anxious to know whether their child has been admitted - to a playschool! This is especially true in South Mumbai, where there are a lot more children than there are quality schools.
Unfortunately, I am one of those who endorse sending little ones to playschool and nursery. It is beyond me to keep my one-year-old active, stimulated and interested. So I too have succumbed to all the heartburn. We mothers have just about finished all the research and discussions about the pros and cons of the various nurseries. And been through the anxiety of admission worthy of post graduate studies…
Along with other moms in the playground where I take my children, I too can discourse knowledgeably about the benefits of the Montessory Method and the Play Way Method. I have heard and recounted horror stories about nurseries that are supposedly popular as they start training these little babies for school interviews. And how important a well-known brand name is for a nursery, and which brands are better (read: makes it easier to do well in school interviews).
I have visited nurseries that are so colourful and lively that I have longed for my children to be able to spend their two/ three hours there. I have heard about PTA meetings that some nurseries insist on, and wondered if I am up to it myself.
I have been part of the debate about whether young girls make better nursery teachers than older, soberer ladies. Whether young teachers make learning more fun, and if children have a tougher time settling into school routine as they go into "big school". Or when the teachers are older, they are better able to deal with our precious brats with more patience, and will be able to keep them safely busy.
I often wonder whether a large class of forty-one students indicates how popular and good a school is, or do children do better in a smaller class where they can get more attention. I have even compared the ayah-child ratio in my analysis!
Fathers, too, are not immune to this pressure. While shopping for the nursery, even dads are roped in to make the rounds, see the classes, meet the teachers, collect the forms and generally make themselves useful in the decision process.
I cannot help but wish I could do what parents of my generation did; pack us off to any local nursery, as long as it is not in someone's verandah! And we would meet here the same children we would play with in the local park, and later on, we would all go to the same schools - thus forming foundations of friendships that would last through our childhood and beyond.
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