Explaining Preschool Philosophies: The Academic Approach
his week, in our series on the various philosophies and approaches to early childhood education, we explore the academic model of preschool, with help from Swati Popat Vats, an educator and president of the Early Childhood Association, an advocacy group that seeks to coordinate early learning stakeholders in India.
While most preschools in India combine teaching methods, Vats says — for instance, an academic preschool could include elements of the Play Way method or Montessori approach — this is a breakdown of what your child will experience in a preschool that emphasizes primary school preparedness.
An academic preschool focuses on preparing children for primary school. Direct instruction through traditional, structured methods, like completing worksheets, follows a curriculum focused on building reading, writing and maths skills. Children’s days are divided into play, study, and recess times, which follow a schedule and are guided by a teacher. Order is of prime importance in the classroom.
Teachers must be qualified through the Nursery Teachers Training (NTT) program, the online ECCE teacher training programs of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), or the National Institute of Open Schooling’s one-year certificate.
All children sit in rows facing a blackboard. Assistant teachers walk around to check on students as they complete their work.
A child from an academic preschool can easily adapt to the environment in a traditional primary school. Academic preschools provide an early foundation for reading, writing, and number work.
Research is increasingly showing that direct instruction at a young age Play Way and too much time spent sitting still is detrimental to their development. In an environment that places an emphasis on both, kids may be punished for acting on their natural need to move and play. Additionally, academic preschools give report cards and grades for every student, which parents may find encourages competition at an early age.
Even academic schools can incorporate play into their methods, and parents should look for one that balances traditional instruction with frequent recess or art and crafts time, Vats says.