Is your Child Ready for Play School?
Submitted by Jyoti
Every parent wants a strong foundation for their child, to build a sense of confidence in themselves as they grow older. Play school can perhaps offer that solution, but it is also a subject of debate for parents of toddlers. Does play school actually offer that strong foundation, or is it just a trendy status symbol for families who can afford fancy and exorbitantly priced places?
When my daughter was a toddler, I decided there was no real downside to sending my daughter to play school. My dilemma was more about the appropriate age to send my child.
Often parents feel pressure to send their child to play school as early as possible. I did a great deal of research and was persuaded that my little girl would do well if she begins preschool early. We asked a lot of people in the neighborhood and settled for one of the best and well-recommended play schools in our location. Without feeling the social pressure, I sent her at 2 years old.
Still, as a parent, I wondered if this was the right age.
By this age, she was not toilet trained and only spoke words and not proper sentences. This concerned me, but the teachers shared that this is normal development and the children will learn to speak in the play school.
On the very first day of play school, I was terrified to leave my daughter with strangers. Teachers told us to drop the kid near the reception and leave! I left her with fear in my heart and started counting the hours until school was over that day. When it was time for her pickup, I arrived early and was eager to see how she was doing. On the way back home, she seemed happy but didn’t utter one single word. I kept asking her, “Do you like school? Did you enjoy?” She remained quiet. After we reached home, I asked her again and she just said “potty uyi.” She didn’t want to go to school the next day.
What does that mean? I was worried. We went to the school the next day and asked the teacher. Nobody gave us any clue. So, I requested them to let me stay for 1 hour to observe, and they allowed me even though it was against their policy.
In this one hour, I noticed that my daughter was playing in the corner and not with the class. The school had a very poor ventilation system. The child-to-teacher ratio was 1:30. Children were made to recite poems and nothing else. They offered food which she didn’t touch. It was their schedule to take every kid to the toilet after every half an hour. When it was her turn for the toilet, she started crying and refused to enter. At this point, I noticed the toilets were not clean and they forced her to sit on the seat. No wonder she was crying! I am so glad I advocated for my child and stayed to observe the classroom because now I understood.
We finally decided to pull her out and work on specific goals for our daughter before sending her back to play school - a better one. We realized that our personal desire and need as parents is different than her readiness to go. We also decided to involve her in the selection of the play school and ask her questions like what she thinks of the playground, classroom, and teachers etc.
We decided to achieve the following goals:
- First and foremost, toilet training
- Communication skills and the ability to express her needs and convey problems.
- Introduce ‘school type’ activities at home; storytelling, snack and rest time
I didn’t hurry and waited for another 5-6 months until I thought she was ready.
Our search for a new play school included key areas of focus before selecting a better fit.
- Not going to “big names” assuming it will have better facilities
- Quality of teaching and the personal attention is given. We met with the teachers to see if they were compassionate and truly empathetic.
- Student-to-teacher ratio: Ideally, 1:15/20, max. A teacher can only give proper attention to these many children.
- Clean toilets with wash basins, at the similar height of toddlers.
- The Distance of the school from home and office. We decided to keep it near my office so that the timing matches my work schedule (part-time)
- Large, spacious and well-lit classrooms
- Well-guarded and gated schools at all times.
- School has CCTV cameras installed in possibly every area including the classroom.
- Fortunately for us, the school we selected used to click pictures every day and uploaded them on Facebook at the end of the day.
I hope my list of key factors to consider will help you discern the best fit for your child as well. No matter where you stand on the importance of play schools, all mothers can agree that early childhood is a critical time period. I hope you can learn from my story and listen to your child first and foremost.
Every child is their own individual. Listen to who they are. If you do this, I guarantee you will create the strong foundation of confidence we all desire for our children.
I am happy to say that our new selection second time around was a great fit. And this time, my darling girl was ready!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store
About the Author: Jyoti is a mother to a vivacious daughter. She relishes motherhood and is dedicated to nuturing her own personal development . A professional juggling between work , life and blogging, she talks about her daily journeys of parenting