My little one would start school next year(2017). But I have already started talking to other parents, and educators and doing my homework. I used to laugh at folks who worried so much about the future. But I guess when it comes to my own child, looks like I have joined the bandwagon too.
Choosing a play-school was relatively easier,
I visited several centres, toured the place, quizzed them on their daily routine, talked to the teachers and principal while making mental notes. Finally, I asked them how much they charged. We visited premium brands of play schools, mid-priced ones and also play-schools that functioned in a two bedroom house.
After a lot of thought, we put her in UMAH’s Creaches in Villivakam. It is a small play school run by a single teacher comprising of 6-8 kids.
- The teacher was no-nonsense and honest.
- She had good conversational skills, and lots of common-sense.
- She had an overall idea, and experience in early child-hood education.
- Small teacher student ratio.
- It fit our budget. It costs 900 INR a month, for around 3-4 hours.
They don’t follow a structured curriculum, they do a little bit of Montessori, play, watching rhymes, classical music, general knowledge, and some fine motor skill development activities. They are also not very strict about pick-up time, so we don’t have to rush to pick her up when we are in the middle of something busy.
After going here, Arpana has picked up the names of many vegetables, fruits, countries, days of week, months, animals, insects, shapes, colors and so much more. They have helped put lots of words in her memory. But what I consider significant learning is,
- Submitting to authority.
- Riddance of Separation anxiety.
- To share toys, wait in a queue.
- A school going routine
- A better attention span
I make up funny tunes and dance with her while teaching Scripture. We splash water in the bathroom and learn verses together. I tickle her to teach her a new verse. We pray for different things, sometimes she ends up saying, “Jesus, Jonah Thatha va kaapathinga (Please save Jonah* from the fish’s stomach)”. While narrating Joseph’s story, she ends up saying, “Amma, Joseph anna paavum la, avarikaaga jebam pannalama..” (Poor Joseph*, let us pray for him).Putting Arpana in a play-school was a real eye-opener for me, I realized her capacity to memorize. So I was challenged to make her memorize several Scripture verses.
Also, frequent feedback from her teacher, helped me understand more about her skills and her personality.
There is so much of focus these days on early-learning programmes, all parents want the best for their kids. To confirm this, I even found this best pre-school survey list, There is so much of an emphasis on this that folks are talking about this in a national level in the US.
“In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America. As part of that effort, the President will propose a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child – beginning at birth and continuing to age 5. By doing so, the President would invest critical resources where we know the return on our dollar is the highest: in our youngest children.” (February 2013)
Despite all the pressure to grab the right playschool, we gave our little daughter, the best that we could afford. But the harder task lies with us. She learns more from what she sees and experiences in our interactions with her. So, we are trying to work consistently to show her the right models for everything.
The central responsibility of Christian parenting is train our children in God’s Word, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”**
Repetition is the key to impressing things in children’s hearts, but mere repetition is like brain washing. The aim of Christian parenting is not to raise up a brain-washed, verse chanting robot. But, a child who knows to experience God in a personal way. That is why it is so important to talk about God’s Word at home, Talk, does not spell, P-R-E-A-C-H.
Her father does a great job at this, some of their ‘theology-filled’ conversations include
1) Arpana, un heart fulla yaaru irika? (Who fills your heart?)
– Jesus thaan (Only Jesus)
2) Un mind fulla yaaru irika? (Who fills your mind?)
– Jesus thaan (Only Jesus)
3) When she does a mistake… Jesus romba sad aa aayitaaru (You make Jesus sad)
4) No matter, what mood she wakes up in the morning, on the way to play school, When they ride on the bike together.. they loudly sing. “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it..”
5) And , then there is creation lessons when they see the moon, stars or go to the beach.
And so much more too.
We are proud parents when she shows off her vocabulary and sharpness, but our greatest role is to nurture her to love and meet with her Creator God.
* Bible stories
** Deuteronomy 6:7