As an educationist I am often asked questions like what is the right age for your child to attend playschool and how do I choose the right school for my child. Here is what I say:
The right age for pre-school
Research shows that an average child is born with about 100 billion brain cells. An infant’s brain develops rapidly from birth till three years, producing 700 new synaptic connections every second. Experts state toddlers need support to stimulate learning at a time when their brains develop at twice the rate of adults which is between one and a half to three years. If they are not stimulated enough in the years before starting school, the brain can set back by decades.
Factors like a child’s relationships, experiences and environment influence the development of its brain. All these factors need to be considered while deciding a preschool to ensure that there is no stress or push to achieve academic success.
Choose the right pre-school
There is no generic way to pick a pre-school. Parents should just list down factors that matter to them the most — proximity to the house, curriculum and learning styles, hygiene, annual fees, a playground, use of technology, teacher- child ratio, teacher qualifications, classroom size and batch size. Then they must find a school that matches their priority. For some parents, a preschool that has a prayer everyday is vital. Some parents prefer a preschool that teaches numbers and alphabets early on in a structured way which is imperative. Then there are parents who want a less-structured preschool who want the focus to be on play and less on early literacy.
My advice is parents should check out a few preschools — select one that aligns with what they want for the child and themselves. Sometimes parents don’t do their homework and either get carried away with the ‘herd’ mentality, or are victims to the ‘if it is difficult to get into’ it must be good’ kind of attitude. A parent recently moved her child from our school to an expensive, elite, and impossible to get into school, and after six months moved back to ours. Out of curiosity when quizzed she retorted, ‘in that school my child will learn to leave a carbon footprint. With your school she will learn to leave a social footprint. I did not realise how high on my value chain that was till very recently, and so I had to move back.’