Global practices come with a cultural imbibement within the pre-school ecosystem

The last few years have seen incredible growth in the pre-school education market. Factors like rising parent awareness about early childhood care, along with catalysts like an increasing number of nuclear families, women working population and disposable income has led to the pre-school market boom in India. According to Technavio’s market analysis, the early childhood education market will grow at a CAGR of almost 32% by 2021. This has led to the growth of quality education in Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well. This has enabled some players to spread their wings across the length and breadth of the country. As a result of which, children are coming into the fold of early education more than ever.

Globally best pre-schools are known by the pedagogy provided. At the onset, an infrastructurally strong establishment may look like a pre-school that adopts global practices, but it goes beyond appearances.

        The science behind being committed to best practices come from understanding different milestones of children physically, mentally and socially, and supplementing the adequate behaviour to help children grow into life-long learners.

It also extends to generating awareness about safety, hygiene and curriculum among teachers, nurses, school staff, parents and children. Indian pre-schools need to adopt several global practices to build the best ecosystem for early childhood education.

A key way to establish better practices at pre-schools is to embrace a culture of transparency between schools and parents. Parents are the primary caregivers of a child and it is important to share the smallest, albeit important aspects of a child’s behaviour and similarly, teachers can be transparent about the child’s progress and different patterns adopted by the child. A regular exchange between teachers and parents gives both parties enough space to understand the child and build a safe space of growth.

For children-related industries to thrive, a key priority should always lie in the department of safety. In pre-schools, one must be able to foresee and prevent emergencies. Attention to detail is key – whether the size of WCs is adequate, placing fingerguards on doors or the size/material of toys that children play with – forms an important part of building a world-class environment for children to grow in. Initiatives like explaining what an emergency looks like, conducting fire safety drills or teaching children how to communicate their needs is a conduit towards safety.

Along with this, for parents as well as teachers, it is important to review how schools are using different philosophies of teaching.

While Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia have become the key buzzwords for pre-schools, the onus also lies on them to ensure the core ethos of the principles are being imparted in these institutions.

We have all done it. Go to school, get promoted to college, graduate into a job. What if we took a pause here and redid this script? Children are inherently curious creatures who have their own ways of exploring the world. Instead of putting them through a standard coursework, it is beneficial if they’re exposed to learning via their interest areas. Adopting measures like Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence or other personality/skill tests can help educationalists understand children better, thereby creating a more effective educational framework.

Globally, how educators interact with children can change for a more personalized care-taking. Children perform better if they’re doing something they like. Having a coursework that enables them to use their intrinsically available skillsets and interest areas aids them in excelling further in life, thus making learning a fun prospect.

Teachers are creative beings who are innovative and passionate. Their novel approach towards children makes them a great support system of growth and reliance. That, however, stops if the regulatory stringency is too high in institutions. While a framework for all aspects is crucial, teachers in pre-schools should be given some inventive space where they can bring their ideas to aid and facilitate children in novel ways. This creates a positive space not only for the children but also for the teachers and the pre-school ecology at large.

May 2019 issue of Forbes India’s Great Indian Pre-Schools supplement 2019-20.