Saturday, June 12, 2010

a good start!

I had a difficult week. Big "A" joined pre-school.

My week was difficult because I was adamant on making his transition to preschool as smooth as possible. In this process, I had a chance to meet and talk with other mothers whose kids have just started going to school, and I learnt several interesting facts. One of the facts is, its almost always difficult for a child to adjust to a new life outside of home when they first start going to a play group or pre-school or school.

Schools handle this difficult transition in two different ways.

“A” joined a school, that is just a play school and kindergarten, and does not have classes beyond Upper KG. He started with Lower Kg. He joined at a much later age than other kids. In fact, he was the only child in his class who had not attended a preschool previously. Most of his classmates are well settled. Hence, it was relatively easy for the teacher, to handle and comfort a single child. Besides, the coordinator of the playschool, Mrs. Surbhi Kapadia, went out of her way, to see that it was not a traumatic experience for most of her students. I was allowed to be with "A" in his classroom for a couple of days and then was allowed to pick him up early, as 4 hrs (the school timings are 9am to 1pm ) at a stretch, would be too much for him to bear initially. I was allowed to be within the school premises for a few days, and was allowed to console him a couple of times when he got upset, and then send him back to the class. Although "A" is still not 100% settled, and he has moist eyes while entering the class, I can say he has had a relatively smooth transition compared to other children. After talking to several anxious mothers, I realize this approach is adopted by several institutions that are not regular schools but just kindergartens. Some of these schools even encourage the parent to be with the child for a week or so, till the child is comfortable. Some have webcams that allow parents to watch their child, while others allow parents to watch the child, without the child knowing about it. Believe me, this is a lot of assurance to the anxious parent...

Now, a look at the other approach.

Most of the so called regular schools, which have classes till class 10, use a different approach. Many of them do not allow parents to be in the class even on the first day, and are allowed to meet their children only after the regular day is over. They are not even allowed to be within the school premises. Parents have to handover their fearful trembling little angel in the hands of unknown teachers and caretakers and then, just leave! Most of these schools believe that you need to be strict right from day 1, else it will be difficult to control children later. Children, no matter how disturbed or upset, are not allowed to see the parent, while, the parent, however anxious, is not allowed to meet the child till the day ends.

In both these approaches, by the end of the first week, all is well. At least, it seems so. The child sort of accepts the new change in his life. But as a mother, it does makes me think if the second approach, the one adopted by the regular schools, is a right way to start a beautiful journey. Isn't it a traumatic experience for the parent and the child, and can't it be done any differently?

If we, the parents, can be sensitive towards our children, and send them to school only at an age when they are ready and not hurry it up for our convenience, and if schools, with the cooperation of parents, can be a bit liberal in their approach, I strongly believe, this can be a beautiful beginning.

Next weekend, I will write a detailed post on how you can teach your child at home to read at an early age.

Have a nice week.