The first step is taken. 6 playschools visited last morning and scores tallied for each.
The last I talked about playschool I had listed a number of things I wanted the school to take them through.
I am beginning to have 2 minds about whether I really want them to have an action packed playschool routine.
Why have I decided to send them? Interaction, Socializing, Developing Emotional Quotient, Learning, Discipline...The reasons are many and for each need there is an answer.
There are playschools who teach social skills and others do theme based activity and yet others have computers to create awareness on technology.
Finally, if I have to get down to the core reason for going to playschool- it is emotive and social development, group dynamics and interatcing with their own kind. Therefore, do I need hi tech, 5 star facilities? There is definitely a feel good factor about going to places like this that have hi fi facilities like play gym, computers, CC cameras and a host of other deliverables.
Ultimately, I want a place that is clean, conducive to the child's needs, bright, airy, spacious, having polite and patient teachers, and a fair sized group of kids.
What are the choices? The teaching method is montessory backed in all places. The costs would be ranging from Rs 1500 per month to Rs 4000 per month depending upon the brand equity of the school and the location and decor of the premises. The set of activities would be colouring/ painting, games, gardening, sand pit, play pool, computer, rhymes, reading/ picture books, educational toys. The other training would be dining skills, toilet learning, organising skills.
There are schools that insist that you keep the child there upto nursery school as they don't want to work on the child and then send them off to other nursery schools where the child may plan to do the primary/ secondary education.
There are schools who follow diaper free environment- they remove the diaper the moment the child is within the premises. They provide a bag and tray where the kid's clothes are kept and in due course the child is able to pick out his own and do a change of clothes. They have installed child sized western toilets and maintain time sheets. Some insist that the child be sent in diapers and claim that in a month's time, the child will want to throw the diaper off and get toilet trained more due to peer pressure than conscious training.
Some schools provide glass crockery, thereby training the child on how to handle fragile objects. Some have individual tables for each child to do his food and activities, some put mats on the floor for all activities.
Some schools have a full fledged garden where the child is allowed to experiment.
There are schools that provide meals/ snacks and some require us to send a snack pack.
Some schools provide pick-up- drop facilities.
Some look messy, some are spotless.
Some follow a non interference and non- force technique and others have a curriculum to follow- like a tree month- parts of tree, what lives on trees, rhymes on trees, mini projects on trees etc, or colour month or shapes month.
Some want the child to stay for only an hour and some are as long as 4 hours.
The teacher student ratio is around 1 :5
What is the decision?
The question is, how much can you pack in a 4 hour duration, meals, games, activities, training, the list of claims is endless and I am getting sceptical about how much do kids actually do. What am I paying for? For something that I can do as well myself- my kids can read, write, do rhymes, puzzles. I have a play pool, they can operate the TV, A/C, Laptop, if guven the chance, they can feed themselves to an extent, I am diaper free at home so why am I sending them to schools at all?
If it is only for group dynamics, interaction, Sun TV free environment, estabilishing a routine then why do I worry about how educative they are going to be? Why am I attracted towards the schools that fall in the Rs4000 cost bracket, promise all activities and also ask me to keep them in diapers?
I sometimes think that if I were a SAHM I would have educated them at home. I would have read up the internet for montessory stuff and visited all schools to see what they are doing and then followed a curriculum. I would have taken them on organised trips, and made them cut paper with safe scissors and taken them regularly to play in the sand. I would stick up alphabet and animal charts all over the place, collect as many abacus toys and puzzles, books and colours and have had an action packed day with them. Provided I didn't have to cook, supervise maids, keep house, do the internet, socialize, shop etc etc. But maybe if I were really a SAHM, I would have torn my hair off by now and sent them off to school, desperate to get a 4 hour break.
As of now, nothing is good enough for my precious babies. No one is good enough to handle them as well as I can. So I am going to visit another place that has a pick up & drop facility, costs Rs 1500 average, promise all activities, provide food, kids are excited to go there and come back happy, content, clean and dry and 2 of my hi-fi neighbours are extremely pleased with the services.