There are a few minutes for the 11 a.m. bell to go at a private matriculation school in Perungudi but parents waiting outside the gate turn restless. Inside, in one of the L.K.G. sections, the scene is worse. At least, half-a-dozen children are crying. Once they see their parents from the grilled classroom window, the cries get louder. P. Benita in a spaghetti-strapped dress walks around the room screaming as if she has been deserted, while her classmate Hemanth P. does not stop easily even after his mother comes to pick him up.
Mix of emotions
Faces in most kindergarten classrooms are a varied mix of emotions, especially during the first few days of school. Many parents think earlier exposure in a playschool or day care centre removes the culture shock; yet for many children, the transition to a new place and system is not that smooth.
Quite a number of schools are designing various programmes to ensure a more child-friendly transition. Hari Shree Vidyalayam's ‘parent programme,' for instance, allows the parent to sit in the classroom till the child has settled down. Initially, the duration was six months and it later came down to three months; now, parents can be around for a month.
“We expect parents to be like wall paper and not interfere in our work. Once the child has settled down, the parent moves outside the classroom,” says Bhuvana Kannan, head of junior campus, Hari Shree Vidyalayam. The programme is aimed at providing “emotional support”, she adds.
In many cases, the child is happy to know that the parents are on the campus where they are engaged in activities such as yoga and art. Guest speakers are brought in to talk about parenting and counselling, says Vidya Jaishankar, a faculty of the ‘parent programme.'
Since many are concerned about the safety of their child in the school van, some institutions allow the parents to travel along. Many institutions such as Velammal Matriculation School, Surapet, allow the parents to come in the van for some days, until the child gets used to the driver.
Prema Daniel, consultant on Early Childhood Education, says a child should be introduced to the new place in a phased manner. He or she should be taken around the campus, briefed about the class teacher, non-teaching staff, and even shown the toilet. She says that schools should make arrangement such that parents are allowed to be on the premises for at least one week. “The teacher should be child-friendly and talk to the child in the language he/she knows,” she adds.
Some are of the view that classroom door should not be shut, and parents should give a positive view of the new place in such a way that it creates excitement in the child.