Until recently, not much was discussed on the issue of preschool in the Indian education system. Academic education, in a structured institution away from home, began at age five or six, and the years until then were only for the child’s physical and emotional development. Today, we know that this is damaging to the child, as a child between the age of 2 to 5 years of age is undergoing rapid mental development; more rapid, in fact, than at any other point in his or her life.
As such, pre-nursery schools in Lucknow and other big cities have sprung up. These have a nurturing and caring environment and a well-designed curriculum with your child’s best interests at heart. However, some parents are simply not able to send their toddler away to school so early. In such cases, a few simple steps can help ensure that their child keeps up with the mental growth and learning being received by his or her peers studying in preschool.
The first step is setting a definite curriculum for your child. At two years of age, the child is just starting to learn independence, and will thrive when faced with realistic expectations. An overview of a preschooler’s curriculum includes the alphabet and a few one-syllable words in one or two languages, numbers from 1 to 10, understanding directions (up, down etc.), body parts, shapes, colors, following instructions and learning to share.
Next, parents need to learn how to teach their child. The greatest aim of the preschool years is to spark a lifelong curiosity and a love for learning in the child, which will only be achieved by opening all the venues of knowledge to them. One learning mistake rampant amongst home-schooled preschoolers is restricted focus. For example, the parents may teach the child only about numbers, leading to imbalance; the child may be able to count to hundred by the time he or she starts school but may lag behind in language or artistic skills. Rather, an all-round development can be achieved by covering the absolute basic material in every subject meant for a toddler.
Preschools have an edge over home school in that they hire professional nursery teachers, adept in handling young children. However, a few of their teaching methods can be imbibed by parents for a more productive homeschooling session. One of these is teaching independence and humility. When a child is at home, he or she is the center of attention and knows it. This can go to their heads, leading to indiscipline. Parents ought to deal with their child more maturely and sensibly than before, rather than emotionally. For example, when your child wails because they got slightly bruised, your response should be, “You’re alright. Get back up” rather than fussing over them.
Of the myriad of things you do for your child, educating them will be the most important, not just academically, but in an all-round manner, and it never too early to begin making him or her the best they can be. Thus, it is safe to say that education begins at home!