Many preschools are already offering online activities for their students since last few months. Now, a few of them have also commenced the new academic year with a virtual curriculum. This has sparked a debate among parents. Many believe that online preschool isn’t necessary for their little ones in the current situation and it will only end up increasing their screen time.
Well, enrolling your child in an online preschool is completely a parenting choice, depending on your personal circumstances at present. You may choose to skip this academic year or wait for preschools to re-open, but it will be a few months before it happens. Even after that, most parents will be sceptical to send their kids to school for safety reasons. So, online classes are here to stay for some time as an alternative learning channel to the traditional set up.
Here are some reasons why you can consider enrolling your kid in an online preschool:
- Preschools have the expertise to provide a structured early education and development program for children.
- Preschools use meticulously designed age-appropriate techniques to aid physical, cognitive, creative and language skill development in kids.
- Online preschool will provide the much-needed social interaction to your kid with their peers. Your homebound kid needs play dates, new friends and social awareness more than ever.
- Online preschools are offering fee waivers or flexible payment options to parents instead of charging in advance for the whole year. You have an opportunity to provide affordable preschool education to your kid.
If you decide to go ahead with an online preschool admission for your child, here are some factors you should consider:
Virtual Curriculum and Activities
You have a right to demand the online curriculum from a preschool. Find out what type of activities they are offering and how they will help in your kid’s development. The online curriculum should be more focused towards activities that encourage learning through play, storytelling, art and craft, music, dance, physical movements and interpersonal communication.
Any after-class assignment or activity should be completely off-screen. The idea here is to balance the onscreen time during classes with meaningful enrichment activities that do not require kids to use a mobile handset or television.
The activities should be such that learning resources are easily available at home. For example, a drum session with steel vessels, dancing with a handkerchief as a prop or hurdle race using chairs and pillows.
Student Group Size
In a physical set up, teachers have helper staff to support them in running a class and managing student behaviour. In a virtual class, a teacher handles everything singlehandedly. Hence, make sure that the student group size is restricted to 5-8 students per session.
Class Timings and Duration
Check whether the online preschool offers batches staggered across the day or in shifts. This way, you will be able to schedule the classes as per your household chores, office work or availability of a laptop or a smartphone.
Also, a session should not be more than 30-35 minutes and total duration of daily activities should be restricted to 1-2 hours. Children should get screen breaks during and after every session.
Anything virtual is vulnerable to internet security breaches and hence, a threat to privacy. Make sure that the preschool has a robust cybersecurity policy or norms in place. You need to know what internet security protocols the school follows for its online classes. If you are not comfortable with the school sharing pictures or videos of your child on their social media, do find out the policy of school regarding this.
Check whether the preschool gives you an option to pay the fee per class, week or month. This flexibility will enable you to manage your finances as well as leave a window to withdraw the admission in case you are not satisfied with the preschool.
Many preschools are offering demo classes for parents to experience online classes before enrolling their kid. When inquiring about the admission, ask the school if it has any such trial class so that you have the first-hand account of whether it is suitable for your kid.
You have access to online preschools across India. Location is no more a constraint. But, it is advisable to choose a preschool that you would ideally consider in normal circumstance – like near your home or office. When the preschool re-opens, you won’t have to switch the location. Most importantly, your kid will be delighted and feel secure in meeting familiar faces.
Your child’s admission in an online preschool is not a compulsion. You can still wait and watch how things shape up in the wake of the ongoing pandemic and then take the decision. But, if you change your mind, the above-mentioned parameters will help you evaluate the preschool and make an informed choice.