The Importance of Play Schools (FAQ)


What is the concept of a play school? A play school is a place where around 10-20 children spend 1-2 hours each day under the supervision of a couple of teachers. "The supervisor-child ratio should ideally be around 1:10" says  an experienced   Child Psychologist. She believes that play schools have a lot to offer, and that the play schools should not be aimed at developing  academic skills . She also says there should be no set goals or any stress on performance; the focus should be on the sensory-motor development and the  social development of  the child. She is very much an advocate of play schools since they develop age-appropriate  behavior at the right time.
How do play schools go about achieving this goal? A play school  even helped mothers toilet-train their children. At this stage, children learn best by observation. At home, this kind of learning is not at an optimum level.  In a play school the supervisors focus on teaching children the age-appropriate  behavior through observation and imitation."  The school has a language and listening room, a motor skills room and a drama and theater room. In the motor skills room for instance, children are made to pour water from one tumbler into another and then repeat this exercise using a funnel. 
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, i.e. those appropriate to their stage of development. 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 parentsout. Another advantage is that a child's language skills develop faster as they interact with many children of their own age and a little older.
Play schools prepare children for their entry into formal school. The first day of the 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. Bawling children, clinging to their parents on the first day of school is a common sight. In Dr. Mehrotra's opinion, play school helps minimize separation anxiety. She feels that play schools prepare children to face the world, as they are more self-confident and independent, they have improved interpersonal skills and better vocabulary.
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.
Often children exhibit various fussy and demanding attitudes while going to school in the initial days. Sending kids to playschools helps in overcoming such behaviors. The first step of a playschool is to train kids to face the outside world of development. Kids sent to playschool display better results in studies and other activities as against kids who have never been to a playschool.
Attending a play school enables kids to mingle with other school mates, thereby improving their social life. As a result, kids are in a better position to cooperate and handle situations faced by them in future.
While being at a playschool, a child learns to interact and converse with other children. In due course, he/she learns to enjoy the company of other children of the same age group. Surrounded by children, kids will learn to be happier, thereby developing and improving their mental ability and growth.
Play schools do not emphasize on delivering knowledge to children and testing them through exams and tests. The very word ‘playschool’ implies ‘playing at school’. They are taught nursery rhymes and other lessons through play and fun activities. Thus, with many involving activities around, kids are able to learn faster than during school days.
While some kids easily mingle with other people and kids, some are too attached to their parents and refuse to leave their mommy’s or daddy’s arms even for a few minutes. This characteristic is gradually reduced at playschools by indulging such kids in various entertaining and creative activities. With this, they learn to stay away from their homes and parents, in particular.
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