It’s the same nightmare repeated every single morning, except Saturday and Sunday. Upasana Doshi has been doing the same thing for the last couple of months. The tears, Wails, tantrums and finally, silent heartbreaking sobs. “It breaks my heart to see her cry, but it’s the best for her”, says Upasana.
Upasana Doshi’s mornings begin with a silent prayer, hoping that her daughter Kinnari does not cry while going to playschool today. Kinnari Doshi is barely two.
The still lisping toddler is among the growing breed of students who join, what is known as playgroups or playschools or preschools. These admit children as young as one year six months, as can be seen from discussions in various chat room forums about parenting. The student-teacher ratio is around 1:10 or 1:15 with an assortment of ayahs and helpers in addition. The classrooms’ are brightly lit and coloured areas, with plenty of toys and educational aids, are thrown about. Studies include nursery rhymes, play and tell role play and other activities. The newer breed of playschools has included days like Doctor Day, Market Day, Farmer’s Day apart from the usual dance, music and puppetry classes. And many even have Graduation ceremonies! These may seem clever marketing strategies to many, but these often are the deciding factors for many parents who may be plagued by the question… ‘to send or not to send”.
The more activities, the more money and therefore the assumption better quality!
Lakshumi Ranganath sends her son to one such school because according to her, ‘he is painfully shy and timid and interacting with kids his age has made him a bit more vocal. “I would recommend sending children to playschool, she adds.
On the flip side, is the anxiety many children face when separated from their mothers? Is it necessary to put them in a regime as early as a year and a half? Playschool may be more plan than school, but a child is bound by some rules, is it necessary to do it? Some like Sana Ansari, have made the decision to home school instead of playschool. Her in-laws take care of her son Owais, while she runs a canteen in a local school. With her husband abroad, it is left to the grandparents to teach three-year-old Owais colours, shapes, greeting elders etc. Sana has a rather different take on the issue. She says that parents are forced to rely on play schools due to the breaking up of the joint family system. “Previously grandparents or uncles or aunts used to teach, play and take care of the children in the family, now with both parents working who will take care of them, so these playschools become necessary “, she states.
Whatever the reasons, the most poignant question is whether we need to push our children into the regimen of education so early in life? Childhood is considered to be one of the best and carefree periods of every individual’s life. Why not let them enjoy it as much as they can? As many parents can attest, there’s a lot of pressure to send your kids to preschool. It is more a case of “other parental pressure”, that makes many parents send their toddlers to such schools. Most of these preschools are exorbitantly priced too. The kids who truly need early education have parents who, sadly, can’t afford it!
There is also a growing trend among parents to let children stay in playschools till the time they get their child admitted to a school of their choice. But an expert said the trend of repeating a year in playschool or pre-primary may affect the child’s overall growth. There is an appropriate age for learning certain things, which cannot be ignored.
If both the parents are away at work, with no one to guide the child in the process of socialization, it seems a better choice to send the child to a good, but not necessarily an expensive playschool. Children’s brains are remarkably sharp, and it makes sense to put them in an environment conducive to learning at a young age if guidance is unavailable at home. If the decision has already been made to send the child to a playschool, try and find something that isn’t very academically inclined. Find a playschool that focuses on letting a child have fun while learning. Ideally, find a playschool with a garden, and that has many outdoor activities, uses teaching aids, and has qualified trained staff.
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