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Little Learners | Times of India

Kindergarten years have a way of refreshing the youth that might have died down, while reminding you of the lessons learnt finds out Shruti Bhiwandiwala.

Original story published in 2011 in Education Times, The Times of India

Kindergarten (KG) is the first step of a child into the world of education. It plays the role of a teacher teaching life's simplest things. Apart from teaching your toddler the alphabet to effortless sentences, to manners, it also builds the bonds of friendship. Why is KG an important phase of life? The child steps into the beginning of a new phase which opens doors to a gamut of activities. With the tot is a brigade of guides and nurturers-parents, teachers, peers who strengthen the days of KG making it fun.

Toddler talk

KG remains to this day a toddler's first step into the arena of learning and the institution of education. The young ones today are being taught on a different level altogether. Lessons are taught faster and more topics covered over the course of a year. With the classroom being brought out on to the playground, there is a variety of things to do-learn music, arts and crafts, learn with interactive games. KG gives aids your child with learning a whole lot more than just the ABC's. KG has managed to acquire the title of a 'playschool' solely for the reason that the pleasure factor is an added bonus.

Times have changed since the late 80s and 90s, when a child simply attended class, passing through each hour in the same monotonous tone, taking down homework at the end of the long day. Today, kids spend two thirds of their day in KG, processing information while perceiving it as an enjoyable task. They return home smarter each day, with more insight than was earlier expected of them.

Niyati Joshi (19) says, "Kindergarten during our times and now is still pretty similar. The only difference lies in the fact that kids today are training themselves to be more friendly, confident and open, which will eventually help them mould themselves into pleasant and approachable adults."

Although it may be seen as a laborious task for the kids to go through long hours of activity each day, one must consider that it is time well spent.

Parent trap

While it is the toddlers who are entering the institution of education, the parents join them on the ride, coursing along with them each step of the way. As the child enters kindergarten, the parents indirectly head in the same direction, while refreshing what they studied back in their days. Helping the child with his or her lessons, talking about the child's day, learning new things are all part of the parent's job profile when they set out to raise a child. Right from the start, parents also go through the strenuous process of academics, while being the silent workers who help in the child's development.

While looking for the right kindergarten for the child, parents must keep in mind the needs of their own children first. Based on the child's attitude, grasping power and general conduct, the parents can make a decision about the school; ensuring that the environment is agreeable to learning.

While recounting the times that she was looking for an appropriate kindergarten for her daughter Navyadisha (7), Amrita Salian, freelance writer recalls, "I was very particular about a couple of things while putting Navyadisha into kindergarten. I made it a point to interact with the teachers on a one-to-one basis, because I wanted to ensure that the teachers were friendly, patient, have a good command over English and know their curriculum well. Also, I wanted to put her somewhere with a good place, a set foundation and a good number of years of experience in the field."

Similar views are shared by Sonica Sunkersett, mother of Sohil (5). She ensured that her son was sent to a kindergarten that had a considerable amount of experience in dealing with children at that young an age.

Another criterion parents base their decisions on is the surroundings and the environment that the child is to learn in a good, spacious area with comfortable and child-friendly furniture and pleasant atmosphere are the factors taken into consideration.

There is a lot to be learnt from the parents too. Besides it being a revival of their kindergarten lessons, parents also help in enhancing the teachings that kindergarten has to offer. Lessons like manners, the alphabet, words, numbers, simple exercises among others, although instilled in the children by the kindergarten teachers, are further drilled into them with encouragement and polished teaching by the parents.

For the teachers

The task of teaching the toddlers is a big responsibility in itself. It is the job of the teacher to ensure that the child learns the right things in the right manner, while still being able to connect to the child on his level. A good teacher in kindergarten guarantees a stronger foundation for the child's learning base and a better understanding of his lessons.

"A child's brain mainly develops in the first six years of his life through environmental stimulation. It is during this time that the child is to receive basic language, social and environmental stimulation with the help of his parents and kindergarten," says Swati Popat-Vats, director, Podar Education Network. She adds, "It is important to remember that kindergarten is the place where the child develops his or her personality while developing mentally and emotionally."

For the children of today, kindergarten is a lot more than mere learning. With the help of practical teaching and serious detailing, teachers ensure a good scope in future studies for the child. Teachers must be able to modify their own methods and behaviour such as to suit each student to make the overall process of kindergarten learning a comfortable one. Adaptation of this nature is a sure-shot way to get across to the child in a successful manner, thus strengthening the way the child learns.


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