I belonged to the lucky group for sure! The unadulterated pampering from grandparents – shielding me from my mother’s scolding, the smell of my grandmother while I cuddled up to her in winter, with her bedtime stories or her soft wrinkled hands putting me to sleep. Then as kindergarten rolled in, it would be my father carrying me to the school entrance and my mother receiving me back after school with a lollipop to woo me away from my friends for the day. Our flavour of childhood was absolutely different. We had no mobiles, no laptops. Our teachers would sing and dance for us to nursery rhymes, feed us with their hands. And if any of us suddenly started crying because we were missing home, they would carry us like their own babies in their arms and walk through the school corridor putting us off to sleep.
But times have definitely changed. And more changes are in the offing. Perhaps the story I shared of our times and the way pre-school looked like even a couple of years back, was a gradual transitioning story if mapped on a timeline. But this time round, the change in story is a bit abrupt and perhaps it’s calling for a change which we have not even imagined as a possibility even in our wildest of dreams; Pre-schoolers taking to virtual school.
It is obvious kids are required to befriend technology much younger in current times, as their future is going to be more tech-dependent than ours. With obvious pros and cons to the situation, the story of preschoolers sounds a bit different and this definitely marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of pre-schooling. Imagining a tiny soul less than say 5 years or so, learning to manage the entire learning through a laptop screen with limited opportunities of interacting or making friends.
They will be slow in learning so many life skills, like the magic of socialisation, how it feels to steal from a friend’s tiffin box or start crying seeing your friend cry, for no rhyme or reason. But is virtual schooling all that bad? Perhaps no!
Virtual pre-schooling definitely calls for more involvement from the parents who are also mostly working from home these days. So naturally this makes the entire exercise quite wholesome for the kid. With due acceptance of the fact that virtual pre-schooling has some flip sides, let us see some reasons of calling it a boon:
1. Pre-schoolers are testing out new things. In brief they are experimenting and just getting to grasp a feel about what the world is all about. It goes without saying that their future will have a significant involvement of technology in all facets of life. So naturally the earlier they make friends with technology and adapt to its limitations (like inability to allow social interaction in physical sense), the better their chances of making their future smarter.
2. The current format no doubt requires parents to help with the use of virtual schooling techniques. This is a great opportunity for parents to be a part of the learning process and getting to know what their child needs more support with. Being involved in the process on a daily basis gives the parent a chance to closely monitor their child’s progress and plan, working on areas where the child may be deficient in. It’s a great way to ensure that complete attention is given to the child, which would otherwise not have been possible if the child went physically to the school.
3. The parent child bond gets stronger and there are some bonus benefits to the process too. Recently one of my colleagues mentioned that it seems to her that she is reliving her childhood. She chuckled and said that she hardly remembers how her kindergarten was (which is quite natural!). But with her daughter who is now 4, and attending virtual classes, she feels she has gone back to those days, learning to sing rhymes or even getting to learn spelling words from the beginning. She considers (like many other parents) this as a great stress buster. She’s not only able to spend more time to her daughter, but is also able to provide more attention to her child and see that her learning is not compromised.
4. Kids are now getting familiar with a new set of life skills. From learning online etiquette to being punctual online and being able to participate in virtual team activities are a complete set of new skills. This is definitely going to help them once they grow up and will be helpful when they are into their work life.
5. As virtual schooling is getting parents involved in their regular operations, the learning of the child is working out to be quicker and more effective. The personalised care a parent can provide is undoubtedly priceless. This is a great opportunity to give the best possible care to the child’s learning during the foundation years.
6. Just because as a parent you are grown up and work in an office, does not make you a most tech-savvy creature. Many parents reported that not only are they helping their kids, but also they themselves are getting updated on different technologies used in teaching or communicating. Getting familiar with fresh technology updates is a bonus which may even help them at their workplaces, especially in terms of communication or presentation purposes.
Life has presented us with a situation which you and your kid were not prepared for. It has definitely disturbed our regular pattern of living. But sometimes we miss out on the big picture, and restrict ourselves to what we lost during a period of abrupt change. While nothing compensates human interaction, the opportunities virtual pre-schooling can offer to your child’s robust future should not be ignored. As a parent, this maybe a new normal, but view things from your child’s perspective, it is just what normal would mean to him/her in future as there may not be any other reference point for the child of any other forms of schooling.