From technology enhanced classrooms that deliver multimedia content and allow children to interact with objects and images they see on a screen to mini-libraries, separate art and science corners, and personalised wash areas and toilets, Kathmandu’s toddlers and their parents are spoilt for choice when it comes to preschools.
While most of Kathmandu’s 800 preschools follow the Montessori curriculum developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, there are some like Premier International Preschool and Ullens which provide the more exclusive International Baccalaureate affiliated kindergarten programs.
“Children should be encouraged to be inquisitive from a very young age and ask questions in schools rather than just following instructions from teachers,” says Medin Lamichhane of Ullens.
With nuclear families being the norm, working parents in urban Nepal no longer have the luxury of leaving their children at home with relatives, thus leading to an increased demand for preschools.
But it is not just working parents who find this appealing. Pressured by an increasingly competitive education system, even stay-at-home mothers (and fathers) are rushing to enroll their children in good preschools, which are seen as stepping stones into the formal education system three or four years down the line.
The latest crop of preschools employs cutting-edge teaching methodologies and technology enhanced classrooms. For the upwardly mobile parents of today, this is everything they never had, and they are willing to fork out the higher school fees just so their their children don’t miss out.
“You don’t want your child to lag behind and even though preschools are expensive, I believe it’s an investment for my child’s future,” says Reema Prasai, a mother of a two-year old.
Studies have shown that early childhood development programs not only give children a strong social, emotional, and cognitive foundation but also reamains a strong grounding even at primary and secondary levels. Most preschools try to offer holistic curricula to ensure that children are introduced to various facets of the learning process in a fun way.
In an effort to set his school apart from the rest of the flock, Dinesh Prasain has drawn inspiration from amusement parks in the recently opened Global Kids Preschool in Pokhara. Says Prasain: “Kids learn when they have fun and I want to make learning and school as enjoyable as I can.”
While families in rural areas don’t have the same luxury as Kathmandu’s parents, the government is gradually expanding preprimary education and has opened over 30,000 early childhood developments centres around the country with the aim of reaching out to children across 75 districts.
It’s that time of the year again when parents begin the daunting task of searching for schools for their precious little ones. With preschools cornering every neighbourhood, choosing the right fit for your child can become an exhausting task.
A spacious play area, safe environment, and well-qualified teachers top most parents’ list of requirements when selecting a preschool. In order to keep pace with the intense competition, many of the newer preschools seem to focus on infrastructure rather than quality of teaching.
Here’s a checklist to ensure you look for all the right things:
1. Take a tour of the school before filling out any form.
2. Make sure there are safe indoor and outdoor play areas. Children should get to move around as much as they like.
3. Ensure that the quality of teachers is up to mark. Choose a school that has experienced and passionate staff with adequate training and education.
4. A balanced teacher-student ratio: children at this age need utmost care and attention. If a teacher has to handle too many pupils at once, she won’t be able to pay attention to your child’s individual needs.
5. Location is important. It is best to select a school that is close to your home or office as it will save young children from the unnecessary hassle of travelling from one corner of town to another.
6. Good hygiene is another critical factor. Visit the rest room and you’ll understand how much attention the school pays to cleanliness.
7. If your children have to use school buses and vans, make sure they aren’t crammed in the vehicle and there is staff accompanying them at all times.
8. Take a good look at the curriculum. Enroll your child in the school only if the curriculum appeals to you and is devised to foster confidence, self-esteem, and love of learning among kids.
“We fulfill the needs of the modern young parents who encourage learning-by-doing so that their children develop a positive outlook from a young age.”
Vibha Rana, Montessory Cottage
“A mix of emotional, social, mental and physical approach is important - this is holistic development.”
Subana Basnet Karki, Kinder Pillar
“Smart classes help children become sharper and ensure that they learn more.”
Sirish Khadka, Olympia
“Interaction with other children and people in a stress-free environment is as important as learning from textbooks.”
Lok Raj Giri, API School
“Children are keen observers and learners from very young age. We balance our teaching with Montessori as well as play-way method.”
Diptee Acharya , Sanskriti School
“Children who go to preschools will enjoy studies in primary and secondary school, and they will learn in an intersting and effective way.”
Shanker Raj Joshi, National Creative Co-Educational School (NCCS)
“It is important for children to get a good educational foundation in the most important years of their lives.”
Swagat Shrestha, Kathmandu Valley School
“Preschools cater to the needs of students and their teaching methods are child friendly.”
Bushan Gurung, Chandbagh School
“Preschools lay the foundation for higher studies and cater to children according to their individual needs.”
Ashim Sharma, Rajarshri Gurukul
“Infrastructure, teachers, hygiene and sanitation plays a huge role while choosing a preschool.”
Monica Rajbhandari, Shemrock Keen Kiddies
“Your child’s development is incomplete without preschool exposure.”
Usha R Pradhan, Toto’s World