Playschools in India : In India the prescribed minimum age for school is 4+. Before this age a child can only go to a play school. Normally a good play school takes children only after 2 ½ years of age, but some may admit even smaller children.
What age is best for your child ?
School readiness exists when a child: –
- Is able to communicate verbally with adults and other children.
- Is toilet trained to some extent
- Has enough independence to be separated comfortably from you for the length of the play school day.
- Has a sense of confidence and an ability to begin to do tasks alone.
- A desire to explore and have new experiences outside the home.
- The beginnings of an ability to relate to other children.
- The ability to deal with the physical demands of a new environment, such as climb stairs.
- The ability to stay focused on an activity or enjoy rhymes.
- Expresses a desire to go to school.
The parent’s desire/ need to send a child to play school is different from the child’s readiness to go.
Sending a child to play school before she is ready to go, could result in severe psychological damage to the child.. You can think of sending her for short durations if you feel she is not getting enough interactions with other children and you are not able to stimulate her enough because of your work schedule, but don’t put her in regular play school before she is ready.
What to look for in a good play school
- Don’t go merely by the nametag of the play school in the belief that admission to regular schools will be easier thereafter.
- Get reliable recommendations from parents whose children attend that school. Talk to the children themselves and see whether they seem happy and interested.
- The curriculum of the play school – is the concentration on all round development (including social, emotional, intellectual and physical) or only on securing admission to a regular school?
- Are the classrooms attractive for children?
- Are children exposed to activities that encourage self-expression and development of a full range of motor skills?
- Are children exposed to books, reading, writing, counting, music, science and nature on a regular basis?
- Is there a spacious outdoor area for safe, vigorous physical activity and an adequate supply of equipment. Are children supervised when outdoors?
- What is the teaching environment like? Are children allowed to be creative or think for themselves?
- What is the ratio of teachers to children? Are individual temperament based differences recognised? Do the teachers question individual children and encourage them to expand their thinking and problem- solving skills?
- Does the staff pay attention to the needs of the child?
- How far is the play school from your residence? For three hours of play school the child should not have to travel an hour to get there. Ideally your child shouldn’t have to commute for more than 10 – 15 minutes.
- If meals are provided are they nutritious and varied? Do the teachers pay attention to the children during mealtimes – making sure they finish their tiffins?
- Are the teachers trained in early childhood education?
- Is the principle experienced as a teacher and as an administrator?
- Does the staff welcome you as a participant, communicate regularly with you and respect your preferences and ideas? Resource : how to start a school
As your child grows you will have less and less control on his educational environment. In play school you do. Choose the play school keeping in view benefits to the child rather than future worries.
The best ways to help your child minimize his anxiety over going to play school are: –
- Involve the child from the beginning. Take him with you when you go to visit play school in the area and ask him what he thinks of individual features such as the playground, the classrooms, teachers etc.
- Expose him to other children of the same age well before school begins.
- Buy a set of clothes and things especially for school.
- Tour the school together to orient your child.
- Talk him through the first day a few times. This will help quieten his fears, as he will know beforehand that you plan to leave him there and will pick him up later.
- Let him interact with school going children and read some stories involving going to school.
- Introduce some ‘school type’ activities at home such as storytelling, snack and rest time.
- On the first day of school.
- Make sure the child is well rested.
- Rises early enough to get ready calmly.
- Eats a good breakfast.
- Keep farewells brief. If possible, say goodbye at the door and send your child with another adult. Give her a hug and remind her of all the excitement ahead and that you’ll enjoy listening to it all later.
- Build up strong contacts with the teachers. Volunteer at the school occasionally if allowed.
- Tell the teacher the child’s family history and any special problems.
- Don’t hesitate to defend your child. No one else knows her as you do. Trust your instincts.
- Invite her classmates home.
Sometimes after a few easy months, the child may suddenly develop problems. These could be due to misunderstandings with teachers or classmates or an inability to keep up with the work.
- Discuss the problem with the teacher. This will help you find the source of anxiety and perhaps a solution as well.
- Do not belittle your child’s fears or push him to do something he is not ready to do.
- Reassure the child and tell him you love him and will protect him. Don’t tell him to be a big boy and stop crying.
- Help him make friends.
- If nothing works consider changing schools or removing him for a little while.
- Consider setting up a small classroom at home for your child and call other children of the same age to join in for some play. This will ensure you find out what is bothering him and also that he gets a good start with the best of care and teachers – you!
- Useful related resources :