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In the words of William Shakespeare, there are seven life stages (Seven Ages of a Man). The second one is a whining schoolboy, the stage where the formal education starts but the child is not happy. The mother of the child is excited to send him but the child goes very slowly and reluctantly. In the present time, this scene is changing. Parents are more focused on overall child development. The foundation is laid on a good pre-school where the schoolboy is not whining but is happy about learning and discovering new things.
What is Preschool?
A preschool is an early childhood education program that is focused on the child's primary development. The activities of educating the child are performed by trained professionals. The learning is combined with informative games so that children could learn while playing. Preschools are also called nursery schools, child care, daycare, etc varying on the techniques and format used to educate the child.
Reasons for the growth of preschools
The main reason for the growth of pre-schools in India is the participation of women in the workforce. Transition in social mindset, better education opportunities for females, availability of employment opportunities for females, etc has increased women’s participation in the labor force. The Government of India has also taken several steps towards increasing women’s employment opportunities to reduce gender disparity and improve the employment rate. Therefore the demand for childcare facilities and preschools surged in the past few years.
Types of Preschools in India
The first kindergarten School was established in 1837 by Friedrich August Frobel in 1837 Bad Blankberg, Germany which was initially called the Play and Activity Institute. In1840, it was renamed ‘kindergarten’[A Brief History of Kindergarten- Redleaf Press]. In India, kindergartens give informal education to children from 3 to 7 years with activities like swinging, dancing, nursery rhymes, and other play material. However, the New Education Policy has provision to make ‘early childhood care and education(ECCE) for kids aged 3-6 as a part of Education.
Montessori Schools were introduced by Dr. Maria Montessori in 1907 and these became popular during the initial 20th century. The word Montessori is associated with the education of very young children. Generally, a good Montessori school is one with the implication of Montessori principles which are as follows:
Mixed-age classroom with 2½ to 6-year-olds in the same class.
A full range of Montessori materials on shelves within easy reach of children.
Free access to all materials of children's choice
No timetable for the day
Teachers holding AMI(Association Montessori Internationale) Diplomas
Key aspects of the Montessori Method
It not only focuses on academic goals but also manages all-around development- emotional, social, and ethical.
Provides concrete, hands-on and sensory experiences with a specific list of materials, typically made of wood in regular geometric shapes.
Promotes positive social interactions
Encourages independent exploration, problem-solving, and creative reasoning.
Creating multiple age groups, traditionally with a three-year span(This objective is often missing in Indian Montessori Schools) as a community of learners.
Promotes courtesy and peaceful conflict resolution with peers.
Emphasis on self-care, environment, and materials.
Nursery Schools are designed by Margarate Macmillan of England for children of working mothers. The main objective of nursery schools was to take care of the health and education of young kids. It aims at the physical, mental, and emotional development of children in their early years. In India, preschool is a learning establishment that offers early childhood education to children aged between 2-4 years. These schools aim at the cognitive development of a child, his emotional development, and academic development. Pre-schools operate both publicly and privately. There is a remarkable growth of Indian pre-schools as a result of awareness for early childhood care, coupled with the rising number of nuclear families.
Pre-primary schools were developed in our country as a preliminary or preparatory stage for primary education. In some states, it has been designed for two years and in some others one year. Whereas, in Assam pre-primary school system is attached to primary school for two years. Although the Kothari Commission of 1966 has suggested making separate provisions for the pre-primary schools.
Intending to serve the early educational need of the poor and backward children, Kothari Commission has suggested the establishment of this pre-school system. As a result of it, the rural and backward people may be more benefitted out of the system. It has included programs like training in the health and hygiene of children, training in their social behavior, and the formation of desirable habits. Also, it may act as an alternative to the western costly System of pre-primary education among the people of India, especially in rural India.
It is famous as supplementary means to the Balwadi system of pre-primary education. It mainly aims at training the rural uneducated and also the poor mothers on how to take necessary health care and education of their children. Therefore, the program includes training in childbearing, child care, and nutrition for rural mothers. Thus, this system may be truly described as child development and child welfare program for rural people. Integrated Child Development Service Programme. The government of India in its National Policy of Education, 1986, has undertaken this program of child welfare. It has been designed as a service program for children of the rural poor. Instead of giving training in reading and writing to children, this system aims at the development of their individuality through playful means.
What to look for in a pre-school before enrolling the child
The following 5 factors must be checked before enrolling a child in Pre-school
Good Reputation- The choices of pre-schools are vast. To narrow this down, there are multiple options available for parents that include social media groups, good word-of-mouth, etc. Learning about the good experiences from trusted peers is a good option to start the search. A few questions to consider might include-
Is your child happy?
Do they talk about school?
Are teachers at school caring?
How does the school communicate with parents?
What are the activities the school performs to engage the kids?
Is the atmosphere of school playful?
How does the school communicate with the parents?
Comforting Environment- Pre-school experience is the first time a child spends time away from home and parents. It is important to provide them the same comfort and warmth at schools. Parents must visit the school in session and see the operations there. How the teachers interact with students and vice versa. The classrooms should be fun, safe, and engaging. These things should be kept in mind while choosing a pre-school because this is the primary stage of life and children should not be exposed to stress and anxiety.
Passionate, loving, and qualified teachers are the building blocks of pre-primary schools. A school is incomplete without its teachers and administration. Passionate teachers are one of the key differentiators of an okay and excellent preschool. Make sure that the teachers should be kind and generous towards students. A good nursery school teacher should exhibit the following characteristics-
Good Communication Skills
Loving and caring attitude
The campus plays a crucial role in the overall development of a child. Safe and engaging activities rank high in finding a good pre-school. Facilities should be evolving and updated. The classrooms should be evolving and full of gadgets, tools, and child-friendly equipment. Appealing techniques like outdoor activities should be promoted so that the little one can come close to the wonders of nature. Apart from this, activities should be hygienic and healthy.
Children learn by discovering and playing. They experiment with things and learn. This is called ‘active learning. A good nursery program must follow this criterion. Activities such as reading, problem-solving, arts, crafts, outdoor playing, etc play a crucial role in overall child development. These activities lay the foundation of a solid education. The activities generate curiosity among children and motivate them to try out different things. By this, they develop pre-school skills and concepts. Active learning makes a child ready for school. This includes
The right environment flourishes the Joy of Learning.
The balance between Academics and Extra-curricular Activities
Education is just about classrooms and understanding is an old concept. Now it has evolved into outside class experiences that contribute to overall growth and development. These activities also help the children decide their potential and areas of interest. They get to know what is good for them and how he wants to move on with his life, sports, acting, singing, and so on.
Efficient time management adds an element of fun and enjoyment to any task. However, practice sessions and rehearsals take up a lot of time and kids might need to juggle between academics and other activities. Children might miss hanging out with friends or relax at home. Not only this, but their grades also decline sometimes. The schools should focus on maintaining a balance between academic activities and extra-curricular activities. The kids must enjoy those instead of feeling burdened. Teachers should act to support the students instead of bossing them. They should help them to achieve their goals in spite of goal-driven towards academics or others.
The idea of team spirit, sportsmanship, etc, should be discussed in classrooms. The performance should be measured and rewarded.
Extracurricular activities give students a chance to try a variety of things. Let it be public speaking, playing guitar, singing, or skits and plays. They discover their interests and passion. As the result, they push the children to get out of their comfort zones and explore new possibilities and enjoy each day at school.
At the present time, there is no answer to a perfect school. However, there is always the right preschool that would consider the personal needs of a child. In a search to finding the right school, Early clearing is created by building trust. Good teachers don’t shout or give eye rolls. Good student-teacher relationships hard to define but is visible.