As the child approaches the age group of 3 years, parents start looking for a play group or a pre-school for the child. There are various questions that come to every parent’s mind while deciding which pre- school the child should go to, such as:
1. Fee structure,
2. Reputation of the school
3. Transport provided by the school
4. Other children from the neighbourhood going to the school
5. Performance of the staff
Finally what motivates the parent to put the child in a specific pre-school is so subjective that it cannot be universally applied to the whole community. But, in general, the benefits of putting a child in a nursery/pre-school can be the same in most of the children, such as:
1. The child learns to get along with other children
2. S/he learns to share and take turns while doing daily routine activities.
3. S/he gets used to new /unfamiliar adults and learns to listen and follow their instructions
4. S/he learns to respect and value all people.
5. Most importantly, the child becomes prepared for school.
Every pre-school has a wide range of activities for the children. These activities give the child a chance to try out physical activities and challenges in addition with helping him/her socially and educationally which may not always be possible at home. The pre-schools provide for some large attractive equipment such as the swings, slides, climbing frames, tunnel, large size blocks, balance beams and various toys such as scooters, tricycles and /or hoops. There may be musical instruments and dance sessions.
The child will get opportunity to play all sorts of games and activities that will improve his manipulative skills such as peg boards, shoe-lacing, beads and thread sets and the most popular cut and paste construction activities. There is scope for more frequent and large-scale messy play with sand, water paints and or clay/dough in comparison to what the parents might allow /bear to put up at home. The open play spaces in the play groups are also a big attraction for most of the tiny tots.
Children become more confident and disciplined once they start going to a pre-school. While they come to know about their physical limitations, they also come to know about what all they can do at their age. For instance, they start enjoying the walking in a line exercise; they can hold hands and run, bounce, jump slide and hang around in the playground. They enjoy this freedom and as a result their self-esteem gets built up.
Although there are some children who are still not prepared for learning through a structured approach at the early age of three. For such children, parents may start with a daily scheduled visit to a nearby park or play-ground. And then, they can slowly shift the venue to the pre-school. Parents can also try some ‘soft play’ activities such as bouncing, jumping, running, jogging on the spot with the tiny pre-schoolers at home if they are fussy about not going to school.
Children will be benefited from a session at a pre-school only if the parents see this as just a step in their personal development rather than making them some show-stoppers from the very beginning. While choosing the play schools, one must weigh up the relative merits of different activities these pre-schools provide. Most importantly, one must ask as to what my child is likely to enjoy most in a particular school and then consider the cost of the school. Parents must consider how convenient it will be to get to the class and how long will it take for the child to get there and back. What is available will definitely depend upon the distance between the school and your residence and the safest means of transport to reach there on a daily basis.
But, in India, one of the most important aspect must also be, what is the ratio of students vis-a vis teacher in the classroom. If there is close supervision and children have to wait less for their turn during mid-day meals or using the wash rooms, it is definitely a blessing for the child. But then, such services would also mean extra economic burden on the parents. So while deciding the pre-school the,most important factor needs to be the actual learning and enjoyment that is on offer for you as well as the child.
Take the child along to the schools and let then decide based on where the child enjoyed the most. Repeat the visits, for two or three times before finally deciding to pay the fees and other charges. Children are sometimes the best judges and they may help to make the decision easier and faster.