The First Step

I have reached that critical juncture at parenting where I need to expose my baby to longer hours of unsupervised exposure to strangers - yea, that's the way I look at schooling…Strangely, right now, I don't think about it as giving him an education or forming his personality or equipping him to deal with the world, although all of these are crucial elements of the education process..These days there are play schools with several different philosophies and it is tough to choose one…The thoughts have been spinning in my head for the past couple of weeks and so, I have decided that it is best to put them down… Maybe, I will get more clarity…

1. The Age: Noone knows when is the right age to start play school. Most often, the decision is made because of external factors such as "we don't have anyone to look after him" or "we want him to become more social" or in some cases "we want him to be ready for his kindergarden interviews"…In my age, there were no playschools…We went directly to LKG1 at the ripe old age of 4 years…Yea, seems outrageous in today's world where learning starts as early as 1.5…I have set myself 2 criteria for my son to start playschool - he starts talking using 2 words and that his Vidyarambham is over…The former is a practical milestone and the latter is an emotional one…Currently he speaks single words, and we who are familiar with him can clearly understand what he wants…But will a stranger know? Or more importantly, will a stranger care enough to listen to him? I am not sure…And that is why I feel that maybe I am holding him back because I am not mentally ready to let go….

2. The Infrastructure: I am still not sure what I should look for when I start evaluating playschools. Should the age group of the other students matter? Should the mindset of the teacher and staff matter? How can I evaluate their mindset? What parameters should I keep to verify cleanliness? How do I make sure that they don't have a syllabus which would add pressure to my child?There are couple of insanely expensive playschools in the neighbourhood, but I am not sure whether that's the environment my baby would like…Maybe, I should take him there and see how he responds... I wish I could find someone who is genuinely passionate about kids and their development…unlike those marketing gimmicks out there….which Anu has aptly written about…(link later)

3. The Logistics: Since both hubby and self are working, how do I manage the logistics of sending baby to playschool and picking him back?

4. Feedback: How will I know if my baby is happy in the new place? Will my mother's instinct be good enough? I can easily figure out when loved ones are upset, so I am telling myself that those same antennaes would suffice for my baby too…But sometimes, when it comes to being solely responsible for another person, you really feel the jitters….I really appreciate those doctors who take decisions on behalf of critically injured patients…You never know whether your decision was right or wrong until its too late to change it anyway…Hmm…that's scary...

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