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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is Play school useful for your child?

Many parents prefer to put their child of 3 year old in a play school instead of regular nursery school, because they think that school will take away their innocence and joy of childhood. Parents tend to be more comfortable seeing children engage in dramatic or fantasy play, interpreting this as creative and imaginative.

Play schools look good because play is a freeing of the spirit and mind in a spontaneous interaction with something or someone and it often includes laughter and movement, both of which are valuable for a child. Because play involves games and interacting with each other ( or with an activity), play does tend to help a child in hastening the coordinating of his body muscles with his senses. This itself is an important accomplishment that helps the child to develop the necessary independence and mobility that takes him further on the path of developing his ‘personality’; or rather the foundation of his personality. In this way, play school is better than a typical nursery school for the child's development.

Although Play is very useful for a child’s development, it only helps your child partially. Having helped him build his body coordination, if you take one more step, you will be able to help your child ‘develop’ the foundation of his personality. Imagine if you can give some ‘activity’ to your child, which engages his hand, body and mind, and through that ‘activity’ the child ‘develops’ some traits in himself, such as concentration and patience, what would you like to do? This is done in Montessori school.

Like play, Montessori school also engages your child in an activity ( not in a lesson!). But there is a difference between Montessori activity ( which is called ‘work’ in the language of Montessori) and play activity. Because Montessori material is scientifically designed, a child faces ‘variety’ of challenges in performing an activity with the material. This motivates the child in repeating activity numerous times. And because the child repeats this activity alone, it fosters development of concentration. 

This early habit of concentration is critical for the development of child, because it enables child to use his latent potential fully. Many parents do not have any idea of the importance of developing this concentration early; due to which parents unknowingly discourage the development of child. Instead of waiting for the child to perform a challenging task, like opening a lock with key, parents have a tendency to interrupt child, offering unneeded help as soon as a child struggles to overcome an obstacle. This is avoided if the child is put in a Montessori school. Montessori school, by engaging your child through an activity, which is natural for him, not only builds his  body coordination ( which is what play school achieves), but also goes one step ahead and develops the foundation of his personality.

A child learning 1-10 numbers through an activity in a Montessori school

If there is no Montessori school in your vicinity, when is the play school beneficial? As mentioned above, play activities are beneficial, because they help body coordination, which is necessary for 3-5 year old child. Play school is helpful when it has activities that can be played individually as well as in group.  Play school is useful if it avoids too much of 'sensorial activation' ( excessive use of colours and sounds) and instead design activities that present 'increasing challenges' for a child. Parents also have a belief that play school promotes social skill. This is misleading. Please read what is social skill and why it is difficult to develop. Morever, as the child also 'absorbs' like a sponge during this age, it may be useful if you engage your child in a proper home study instead of sending him to a nursery school after 4 years.

Here it is worth mentioning about the usefulness of video and computer game in developing a child of 3-5 years. Video and computer games do not help the child in body coordination. Moreever, they cause 'unintended consequences' in the development of child through its overdose of 'sensorial activation'. Due to use of senses, video and computer games attract child repeatedly, unconsciously discouraging child in taking up challenging tasks and activities. This habit of avoiding challenging tasks can sometimes prove detrimental to the development of child.

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