The building blocks for all learning in a child are laid during the early years of 0 to 6 years. Early childhood education program ensures that your child has a strong foundation for future development in terms of better learning and improved outcomes at all educational levels. Preschool teaching interventions can contribute immensely to a child’s social, emotional, and physical development. The importance of early childhood education lays the groundwork for a child’s all-round development, fosters life-long learning, and impacts the overall well-being of a child.
Both the Indian Government and various models in the private sector offer early childhood education in India. Catering to rural and urban areas, different types of centers serve the growing needs of the early childhood stage in the country. To address early childhood care and educational needs, the Government established the Balwadis and Anganwadis, which comprise the public sector early childhood education program.
Recognizing the importance of preschool education, enrolment in private institutions offering a variety of preschool curriculum and approaches that focus on the various stages of early childhood development has gone up. Today more and more parents understand the value of and the impact early childhood education courses can have on their child’s future learning and development.
With the wide range of options that exist for the different preschool ages, it is important that you make an informed choice keeping in mind what suits your child best. As there are so many terms used with respect to early childhood education institutions- preschool, playschool, daycare, kindergarten, and nursery, it is only natural if you feel confused.
Early Childhood Education Programs in India:
In general, ‘preschool’ refers to all care and education services rendered until the child turns 6 years of age or enters grade 1. While there are overlaps in terms of what these various institutions have to offer, you must take into account the differences too when you make your choice.
Daycare: provides childcare services for children of ages 1-6. They provide a safe environment for children to stay during the day when parents are engaged. As they do not follow a kindergarten or school schedule, they tend to be open most of the year and for longer hours. Some preschools also offer daycare as an additional service if you would like your child to stay on beyond school hours. Working parents do prefer this option. Based on the type, the daycare may have qualified teachers along with caregivers. Most commonly in India, daycares are either private chains, standalone or home-based. Daycare activities ideally focus on improving the child’s motor control through art, craft, and play.
Playschool: these care groups focus primarily on social interaction involving a lot of playtime for children of pre-nursery ages 1.5 years to 3 years. Most playschools are based on a specific preschool curriculum or pedagogy. Some of the pedagogies followed include Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio-Emilia, Play-Way, and Multiple Intelligence, to name a few.
Kindergarten: is a specialized space regarded as the first step towards formal education. An early childhood education program for children of ages 3-6 years, kindergarten in India consists of the Junior/Lower Kindergarten (Jr. KG/ LKG) or the Senior/ Upper Kindergarten (Sr. KG/ UKG). Apart from being an important part of regular schools, where they are at times referred to as a nursery, this form of preschool education is also available through separate private chains. All kindergarten teachers are required to be certified in elementary education.
Junior/ Lower Kindergarten (Jr. KG/ LKG): caters to children of ages 3-4 years. This early childhood education program focuses on teaching the letters of the English alphabet and basic numbers.
Senior/ Upper Kindergarten (Sr. KG/ UKG): the preschool curriculum in this level builds reading and writing skills of children, ages 4-5 years, through more structured and creative ways. The teaching at this level focuses on easing the transition to and prepares the child for grade 1.
In addition to the regular curriculum, these preschool classrooms include different hands-on activities that help them develop social, emotional, and physical skills. The sensorial and multidimensional activities, which involve art and craftwork, singing, dancing, and playing, help improve the child’s motor, language, and cognitive skills.
The fee structure of the different preschools varies based on their type and offering. It usually takes into account the curriculum and pedagogy adopted, activities offered, and other relevant costs. When choosing a preschool that best suits your child, make sure your choice also fits your budget well.
Today, in addition to the many institutions that offer preschool teaching to children of ages 6 and below, e-learning apps like Kutuki provide creative content for kids. Created solely for Indian preschoolers of ages 2-6 years, the Kutuki kids learning app offers interactive stories, engaging rhymes, and games with attractive animations and illustrations to meet the learning needs of preschoolers. To know more about the features of the app, read our blog titled, “The Kutuki Kids Learning App- Here’s What You Must Know”.
The importance of early childhood education and its benefits has been known for a long time. However, what was once only an option earlier, preschool education has gained a lot more importance and understanding in recent times. Irrespective of what form of program, which caters to the early childhood education requirements, you choose for your child, do remember that it is critical to make a choice based on your child’s abilities. Every child has their strengths and limitations. Environments that enable their developing personalities to blossom are the ones they will thrive in best.