Trained teachers, best student - teacher ratio, concept school, activity-based curriculum… with Vijayadasami a few days away, play schools are highlighting these and more features to attract admissions. Experts, however, caution that with the mushrooming of play schools, nursery and day care centres, it is important that parents do their groundwork before selecting the school.

Otherwise, it would affect the child as the Krishnamacharis' realised within weeks of enrolling their child in a play school earlier this year. Their daughter was falling sick often. “We found that there were too many kids in the playschool. The air-conditioning and the environment was not conducive for her,” says Kavitha Krishnamachari, who shifted her daughter to another play school after two-and-a-half months.

With no regulatory body to monitor the quality of play schools, experts say it is important that the parents do their research well. A play school is the first step towards going to a new environment where social skills are built and life skills learnt, say teachers. Websites such as www.parentree.in and www.chennaimoms.com have guidelines one could look out for or serve as online forum where one can ask other parents. According to Tamil Nadu Forum for Crèches and Childcare Services (TN-Forces), there are 5,534 primary and nursery schools registered with the School Education Department in the State. Due to absence of any control or regulation, play schools tend to have unqualified teachers, large classes and less infrastructure facilities, says K. Shanmugavelayutham, convenor, TN-Forces.

Play school owners say parents should looks beyond convenience or a school close to the house while selecting a place. “A play school is a place where children come to play and flexibility is its key. Our job as teachers is to provide the right environment, right material to be used that is appropriate to the age,” says Gargi Advaithi, founder, Zoom Kids Play School, KK Nagar.

“Talking to other parents of children in a school as well talking to the management about the curriculum gives a better picture on what one can expect from the school,” says Valli Subbiah, head of Kids Central Primary and Nursery School.

Having a degree in teacher education is essential, say experts. “Tamil Nadu should recognise Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) training as per National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) norms,” says Mr. Shanmugavelayutham. Primary school teachers also are clear they do not want a three-and-a-half or four-year child in class knowing half the curriculum. “We do not want children who know ABC… or 123… If the child is able to speak clearly that is enough. ,” says Pauline Gomez, primary school teacher, Church Park Matriculation School.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012

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