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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Role of play schools in child development

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Play schools are playing a prominent role in developing the children for a better future but at the same time reducing the pressure and stress of parents. These days some children are sent to play school from the time they are 18 months old. This is a new trend and parents of the old school often wonder what these ‘babies’ could possibly learn when they have just begun to walk and talk. Many parents feel that they turned out quite all right without having attended any play school. Other sceptical parents believe that this is just another gimmicky idea that will only put further pressure on today’s children. While is true that children today face tremendous academic pressure, sceptics will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the concept of a play school has nothing to do with academics at all. But it is a good beginning to learn the basics and be around other children for couple of hours every day.

The concept of a play school is that it is a place where around 10-20 children spend 1-2 hours each day under the supervision of a couple of teachers. Most parents give their children plenty of attention in terms of looking after their basic needs and showering them with toys to entertain them. In play schools, however, children are provided with the right toys for the right age. Also, their play is guided so that it becomes a learning experience. The ideas is that children should transfer play behaviours such as feeding a doll, changing its clothes, etc. to themselves, and thus develop self-help skills. The thinking is that if a child can go through the motions of feeding a doll, it will soon learn to feed itself.

Play schools also teach children to recognize their own possessions. Soon a child will learn to identify his schoolbag, learn the mealtime routine that involves opening a lunchbox, folding a napkin and putting everything back after the meal is over and so on. Now this may not seem like a great achievement, but by the standards of toddler behaviour, it is. Children are not born with these skills, they have to develop them. And this is where the play school steps in to help parents out.

Play schools prepare children for their entry into formal school. The first day of school can be quite traumatic for a child. Suddenly, he is thrust into a strange world from the warm cocoon that is home. At the age of three or four when the child goes to school for the first time, a lot is expected of him. Children are not the only ones who benefit from play schools. They provide parents with an external support system in terms of enhancing the child’s developmental skills. In addition, parents get an opportunity to interact with other parents and keep in touch with different approaches to parenting. Parents also have a chance to observe other children and thus have a point of reference for judging their own child’s behaviour. Parents can approach the trained supervisors for advice if they are facing any problems with their child at home. In other words, play schools widen parenting horizons.
Play school is required and there are many reasons why parents go for playgroups at the age of two years. Of course, reasons are different in different cases:

a. Living in nuclear family doesn’t give any exposure to social skills and parents feel it’s better to send the child to school to mingle with kids than to stay at home with a maid.

b. With both parents working, they do not have time but to go for early schooling and day care.

c. Parents who opt for mainstream school for nursery may find admissions easy if the child has attended playgroup before nursery.

d. If friends’ and neighbours kids go to a certain playgroup and are doing good, then the parents do not want to take any chance and put the child in school to keep abreast with others.

e. Home environment is very unhealthy and parents feel it’s better to keep the child away from home for at least few hours. Parents feel, early the school, more the development the child is very active and restless at home and they feel that going to a structured environment for couple of hours will do him good. Don’t go by what others say. Think, judge, evaluate your situation, preferences, ideologies and then take the right decision.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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