How Early Education In Preschool Can Nurture Your Child
Should you send your child to a preschool? And if yes, what kind of preschool should it be? Read on if you are plagued with such questions.
By Sudha S
Preschool education emphasises learning through fun. But holistic education is much more than the ABCs, the 123s, rhymes and activities taught in preschools. A child’s brain develops the fastest in the first three years and whatever children learn or experience during these formative years moulds their thinking and behaviour for the rest of their lives. So preschools play a vital role in shaping our children into better individuals.
What are the prerequisites of a preschool? What should parents look for in a preschool before they choose one for their child? Ideally, the learning environment in a preschool should be conducive. It should help children in the acquisition of knowledge and self-discovery, and provide a wholesome development. Some schools even offer programmes in which the parent is allowed to be with the child in the class.
Gowri Krishnamurthy, child psychologist and counsellor with St Michael’s Academy says, “If preschools do not provide support for emotionally affected children, and the problem is not dealt with early, it could lead to ADHD and dyslexia later on.”
Right age for preschool education
While parents are eager to send their children to the best of preschools as early as 18 months of age, some grandparents dispute the very idea of sending little ones to a preschool. E Balasubramaniam’s two-year-old granddaughter Mahima goes to a preschool in Chennai and stays back with the day care till someone picks her up late in the evening.
Says Mahima’s grandfather, “Children should not be sent to school before they are five. Bonding with the mother is very important for the child. Every parent should spend at least two hours with the child every day – just being with them, talking and teaching them something new. The mother is the best teacher.”
According to eminent educationist Padma Srinath, “Parents should realise that most pre-kindergarteners (and even lower kindergarteners) are not ready to be away from their mother for several hours a day. They feel that they are not wanted by the mother and there is a deep subconscious impact at this early age.”
Contrary to the present preschool education system in India, Swedish children are enrolled in the primary classes only when they turn seven. In some cases, parents also have the option of delaying starting school for their child until the age of eight, if they think it is in the best interests of their child.
In India, two and a half to three years is widely considered to be the right age for children to be in preschool though some parents feel they are school-ready much earlier.
Can preschools provide the best early education for my child?
Many preschools take in children as early as 18 months to two years of age and offer Montessori, Kindergarten, Waldorf and Playway methods of teaching.
If parents are determined to send a child to preschool, they should ensure that the school has a programme content that encourages the five basic skills outlined below by Padma Srinath.
Children should be given at least 30 minutes of socialising time during their preschool hours to encourage bonding with the teacher and with other children.
The preschool should build the child’s self-esteem and not thwart it.Trivial issues like coming late to school or any other emotional stress the child is facing should be sorted out immediately with the parents. The school should make the child understand that he can do something and that he has his place in a group. This will help build his self-confidence and emotional strength. For instance, if your child draws a circle and says that it is an elephant, the preschool teacher should acknowledge the child’s effort rather than ridicule his work. She can say that she can see the tummy or the head.
Preschool curriculum should focus on developing children's gross and fine motor skills. In other words, time spent sitting indoors should equal time spent on their feet.
Intellectual skill development should focus on language, knowledge, art, music, dance and any other activity that interests the child.
Preschool teachers should help children recognise that there are many animals, people and trees who share this world with them and imprint the idea of non-violence in them. They should also teach children about the mysterious wonders of the universe, the unfailing sun that makes the day and the wonderful breeze that makes us feel so good.
What should parents look for in a preschool?
Today’s parents are slowly getting convinced that preschool education does give an edge. But some of the innumerable questions that arise in their minds are –Which is the best preschool in the neighbourhood? How do I make sure that my child has the best teacher and caretaker?
Sudha Kasturirangan, who runs a playschool in Chennai, says that the maximum development of the child happens between 0-6 years of age. A trained nursery school teacher with decades of experience, Sudha highlights a few important features that parents should look for in a preschool.
- The preschool should be run by a qualified person.
- It should have a hygienic environment.
- There should be ample scope for children to showcase their creativity.
- Teaching aids should inspire the children to learn even as they play, and help develop their senses.
- Educational materials should help children develop eye-hand coordination.
- Children should be taught basic manners and etiquette like saying ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’.
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