Introduction The Playschool is a primary vehicle for imparting knowledge to young minds up to the fifth standard, through a perfectly planned schedule of play activities, almost as a rule. The conventional method of teaching is just not present. For example, much against the wishes of my own relatives, I put my son, and later my daughter into a play school in the town bordering Pondicherry, where I was employed then. The town is an underdeveloped town by Tamil Nadu standards and is not exactly well known for communal harmony. This same town was badly affected by the Tsunami, some years ago.
The Play School has now grown into a huge school. Back then, it had very poor strength, but teachers dedicated themselves to the vision of the dynamic correspondent. Her methods were totally unique and were clear that no teacher should beat any child. If this rule is broken, the teacher would be sacked immediately. She did not care about strength but was wedded to her philosophy and vision. Today, my son works for a huge conglomerate in a senior capacity. His out-of-the-box thinking capabilities are very good. I firmly believe that the formative years of a child, before the age of eight, are important for big values and creativity to be formed.
The Playschool a) Fosters a climate of questioning b) Encourages the teacher to keep on innovating in teaching methods c) Nurtures harmony and develops values d) Helps to develop the personality of children and e) Prepares the children to become future leaders.
Fosters a climate of questioning A Playschool helps the child to keep on asking questions. This is quite in keeping with the concept of a free child. It is a natural development process. The best of the world's psychologists have researched this development and have concluded that whatever happens before the age of five has a massive influence on the child's life at a later date. When the child keeps on questioning, in any conventional school, the teachers would reprimand the child and ask the child to keep quiet. He or she would be ordered to just listen to the teacher.
This never happens in my son's Playschool. I still remember the various questions he asked his teacher and the answers he got. One such question related to the Volvo bus, when he was just in the third standard. The next week, I took him to Chennai on a Volvo bus. He asked many questions to the driver and the conductor and the passengers were really surprised by such questions. This is exactly what should be encouraged, as the teacher had actually shown him two visuals of a Volvo bus.
Encourages the teacher to use innovative teaching methods As already mentioned in the first point, questioning naturally leads the child to know more answers. Another teacher would hang a big atlas on the wall and then tell them something about just three Asian nations. India, Pakistan, and China. She would then talk a little more about China and ask the child to come back with two products where he or she can clearly see the label "Made in China". This happened in the fourth standard. My son searched for two products. He found a torch and another computer mouse where it was clearly mentioned that it was manufactured in China. In this fashion, the teacher would keep on motivating the child to learn something new. Each child would show the two or three China products and what their parents told them about the products. The teacher would not load them with information. The so-called syllabus was secondary and each child's activity was the primary focus. This made the children enjoy whatever they learned. The children were taken to parks, museums, beaches, railway stations, bus stations, and so on. They would ask the station master innocent questions and the official would patiently answer each question.
Nurtures harmony and develops values In the aforesaid school referred to, the school authorities never mentioned the word "caste". They were taken to an orphanage where they met children of different backgrounds. That particular night, I was asked several questions. The first question was "what happened to their parents?". It took a long time for me to explain what happened to their parents. He immediately asked what is meant by death. The fourth standard child had to understand that life is something that we live and that one day, we would all be gone from this world.
To my surprise, the following New Year, most of the students went back to the same orphanage and donated cash to the orphanage, sang songs, and asked their parents to take part. The parents bore the entire expenses towards the lunch of each of the seventy-odd inmates of the orphanage. The Playschool was thus able to foster harmony and empathy in children.
Helps to develop the personality of children In spite of the very poor strength of the students, the particular Playschool moulded the personality of both my children in many ways. For one, they were good listeners. They learned to respect elders and were not adamant in whatever they did. They also learned not to tell lies. Furthermore, they would freely talk to their teachers outside the school and would ask them any number of questions. They would always be so lively and would share whatever little news they heard about. Even about heavy rains or a new bus or their travel by a minibus. They would share everything with everyone.
I am of the firm opinion that personality development happens on a very serious note. Since everything is natural and a child is treated like a child, not beaten, and is always encouraged to think differently, the cumulative results of such a process, result in good personality development.
Prepares the children to become future leaders There will always be an emphasis on personality development and thinking out-of-the-box when a child studies up to the fifth standard in a Playschool. It has now been conclusively proved that these same qualities are vital to the building of leadership skills. Leaders are always those who inspire and motivate others. We should recognize this aspect and do everything to encourage any Play School to systematically focus on all the positives so that we have many leaders in the future.
ConclusionIt needs to be emphasized that the Play School method is one that is totally different from the regular schools. However, while every school cannot be converted into a play school, the positive aspects of this method can be taken up for implementation in some way or the other, so that we can see a vast change in terms of creativity and innovation at any point in time.