If you ask any parent why they want to send their children to a play school, most would answer that what the kids learn there would help them get admission in a ‘reputed’ school. They don’t want their child to lag behind those who would have been to a play school.
Early childhood education is a universally necessity for a child’s growth and development. In Delhi-NCR, however, play schools are mostly seen as a stepping stone to a school of the parents’ choice. It is this belief that has led to the mushrooming of all kinds of play schools in the city in the past decade.
Play schools thrive on this feeling. Most of them claim that their students get admissions easily in sought-after schools. At most play schools, you would find a list of formal schools to which their students got admission pinned up on the notice board, printed in the brochure and posted on their websites.
Apart from smaller schools and well-known play school chains, many formal schools too have started their own pre-school wings. “Though the schools claim they don’t give preference to students of their play schools during nursery admissions, there is an apparent bias towards their own wards,” said Sumit Vohra, founder of admissionsnursery.com, which helps parents seeking nursery admission for their children. Diverse options
“Last year, we received many complaints from parents on this issue. Some schools had even given 10 points to children from their own play school,” he alleged. Another important reason is the growing number of nuclear families where both parents go to work. For many, play schools are just glorified day care centres where children also learn something.
Educationists feel play schools play an important role in a child’s early development and shouldn’t looked upon just as a part of formal schooling. But that is exactly what is happening in some cases.
Without any set guidelines, play schools also don’t follow a common syllabus or teaching programme. The child can just play all day and learn social and communication skills at one play school and be taught the syllabus prescribed for Class I in another.
The Ganguly committee on pre-primary and pre-school education in Delhi, constituted by a Delhi High Court order in 2006, mentions in its final report that instead of providing a cheerful environment with activity-oriented and non-structured informal learning, many play schools follow a very academic and teacher-directed curriculum.
“This is what should be discouraged. Play schools are about preparedness of the child,” said Dr Shyama Chona, former principal of DPS, RK Puram and a member of the committee.
“Like every natural being, children have a natural instinct to learn and play schools should encourage that,” said Dr Indu Kaura, coordinator of the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Child Study Centre. “Instead of asking them to keep quiet, their curiosity should be encouraged. There should also not be emphasis on children finishing any work in a deadline. Every child learns at his or her own pace,” she added.
There are all kinds of play schools in Delhi-NCR to suit every budget and need. The curriculum and facilities vary accordingly. It is for the parent to decide what is best for their child.
Anxiety at beginner’s level
Anyone with a room to spare can open a play school. In the absence of regulation, most of these don't have adequate infrastructure and safety measures.